News & Events

Pills with text: Medical Discovery Team- Addiction

Lead Faculty for the Imaging Cells During Behavior Core Awarded NINDS RF1 Grant!

Dr. Suhasa KodandaramaiahMDTA faculty Dr. Suhasa Kodandaramaiah and Dr. Tim Ebner were awarded a grant for their proposal "Robot assisted brain-wide neural recordings and comprehensive behavioral monitoring in freely behaving mice".  With this funding they will continue their efforts to develop better cranial exoskeletons that allow mice to move freely with multiple neural recording implants.  

The team writes: "Currently available technologies for recording neural activity in freely behaving animals suffer reduced performance from miniaturization. We propose to engineer a cranial exoskeleton that attaches to the animal’s head and is capable of maneuvering neural recording hardware weighing orders of magnitude more than the animal subject, in 6 degrees of freedom in response to an animal’s movements. The cranial exoskeleton will reveal the mechanisms by which neural computations function normally to produce complex behaviors and how those computations go awry in neurological and neuropsychiatric diseases."  

Dr. Timothy Ebner

Drs. Ebner and Kodandaramaiah lead the Imaging Cells During Behavior core within the University of Minnesota's Center for Neural Circuits in Addiction.  Their core is already assisting researchers at the UMN offering offers a range of imaging modalities to monitor brain activity in behaving animals across a range of spatial and temporal scales including: fiber photometry, head-mounted miniature microscopes (“miniscopes”) and novel wide field-of-view optical imaging during behavior at both the mesoscopic and cellular levels. This funding and project will bring even more innovative solutions to researchers within the MDTA.

And remember those core services are subsidized to addiction researchers at the UMN through the Center for Neural Circuits in Addiction!

Congratulations Suhasa and Tim!!

Dr. Jocelyn Richard receives new award from NIDA

Dr. RichardDr. Jocelyn Richard, PhD, an assistant professor in the Medical Discovery Team on Addiction (MDTA), has received a new award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, titled: "“Neural basis of incentive and expected value representations”

Dr. Richard's comments on the project, writing:  "The incentive motivational value of drug-associated cues drives several facets of addiction, including escalation of drug use and the propensity to relapse even after long periods of abstinence. Cues with high incentive value elicit complex motivational and emotional states, invigorating reward-seeking behaviors that are incommensurate with the value of expected rewards. In contrast, goal-directed reward-seeking behavior relies on accurate mental representations of the expected value of predicted outcomes. Effective long-term treatments for addiction must precisely target brain mechanisms of behaviors driven by the incentive value of cues, while sparing or facilitating healthy decision-making, including goal-directed control of behavior. Yet, we know little about how the brain mechanisms underlying incentive motivation are related to those required for mental representations of future rewards. This project utilizes single unit and circuit/cell-type specific approaches to understand the relationship between the neural circuit mechanisms underlying these distinct drivers of reward-seeking behavior."

Read more about her research at the Richard Lab website

Dr. Jan Zimmermann receives new award from NIBIB

Dr. Jan ZimmermannDr. Jan Zimmermann's newly funded project, "Connectome style neuroimaging in non human primates via novel integrated RF platforms"  seeks to develop "novel and innovative radiofrequency hardware and... test how well whole brain directional connectivity estimates from fMRI correspond with ground truth tract tracing experiments. This development and validation can directly aid us in translating findings from the animal model into future studies of the mesoscopic circuit effects of human mental illness."

MDTA Faculty, Dr. Anna Zilverstand’ testimony helps pass bill in Minnesota state legislature


Dr. ZilverstandDr. Anna Zilverstand’s testimony and research helped pass an amendment that would no longer require prenatal care providers to report women seeking prenatal care or treatment to local welfare agencies.  As summarized in the bill summary for H.F. 1026, the amendment, recently passed by the Minnesota House and Senate, “removes the requirement for health care and social services professionals to report a woman’s use of a controlled substance for a nonmedical purpose or excessive consumption of alcohol during pregnancy to the local welfare agency, if the professional is providing or collaborating with other professionals to provide the woman with prenatal care, postpartum care, or other health care services, including care of the woman’s infant.” 

This amendment will help give women who had previously been hesitant to seek prenatal care out of fear of being reported and potentially losing custody of their child, the confidence to seek prenatal care and treatment, thus increasing the likelihood of a successful pregnancy and delivery.

 MDTA Pilot Program Awards

  • Drs. Cvetanovic and Mermelstein
  • Drs. Groman and Zimmermann
  • Drs. Redish and Saunders
  • Drs. Cvetanovic and Mermelstein

    Drs. Cvetanovic and Mermelstein will investigate how cocaine actions on the cerebellum influence drug reward:  Drs. Cvetanovic and Mermelstein write: recent “studies suggest that cocaine promotes activation of the neurons in deep cerebellar nuclei that in turn modulate the reward circuitry within the brain. However, the identity of the neuronal cell types comprising the cerebellum-VTA circuit and whether cerebellar activation is required for the rewarding effects of cocaine remain unknown. This proposal seeks to answer these questions.

  • Drs. Groman and Zimmermann

    Drs. Groman and Zimmermann will investigate the circuit development that occurs during adolescence and impacts: “Adolescence is a critical developmental stage in which the brain undergoes a profound reorganization, including the formation and stabilization of neural circuits that are involved in decision making and addiction. We have recently demonstrated that value-based decision-making improves across adolescent development in the rat and is related to the reinforcement-learning mechanism that predicts drug use in adulthood. We hypothesize that these decision-making improvements are due to age-related changes in the amygdala-OFC circuit and, specifically, that measures of amygdala-OFC connectivity during adolescent development could serve as a noninvasive biomarker of addiction susceptibility in humans. This proposal will test these hypotheses by combining sophisticated decision-making assessments with in vivo MR neuroimaging, drug self-administration, optogenetic approaches, and ex vivo tractography across adolescent development in the rat.

  • Drs. Redish and Saunders

    Drs. Redish and Saunders will develop dual-channel fiber photometry for simultaneous measurement of norepinephrine and dopamine in rat medial prefrontal cortex.  Drs. Redish and Saunders write: “Addiction is characterized as a breakdown of decision-making processes. A central brain area in decision making is the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). An often-underappreciated component of mPFC processing is the role of dopamine (DA) and norepinephrine (NE) as neuromodulators. Careful study of the dynamics of these modulators has historically been difficult, but new advances in imaging techniques and fluorescent biosensors have begun to open the door.  The goal of this project is to develop the capability of dual-channel fiber photometry capable of measuring DA and NE levels simultaneously yet separably from behaving rats.

Congratulations to all the award winners!

Lectures & Events

Friday, May 20th:

  • MDTA Seminar 12:15 PM - 1:15 PM (Zoom only)
Laverne Camille Melón, Ph.D.(Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
 Program in Neuroscience and Behavior College of Integrative Sciences Wesleyan University)

"Tonic for all Ales: Interneuronal inhibition, alcohol, and anxiety"

Zoom Link
Meeting ID: 971 3935 8327 
Password: 4NPxMt


Tuesday, May 24th:

  • CTN Pharmacy Workshop “The Role of Community Pharmacies in Treating Opioid Use Disorder: Defining the NIDA Clinical Trials Network (CTN) Research Roadmap" 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
"The NIDA CCTN is convening stakeholders, experts, and NIDA staff to discuss and identify research and other efforts needed to harness the power and reach of community pharmacies in treating opioid use disorder. The workshop will highlight professional scope of work, training needs, promising research and practices, and identify additional research, dissemination, and implementation efforts needed for large scale-up of evidence-based practices."

Please register here for the meeting by Thursday, May 19, 2022


Wednesday, May 25th:

  • GPN Colloquium 12:15- 1:15 pm

DEIC Presentation

Zoom Link

Thursday, May 26th:

  • MIDB Colloquium Series:

"Introduction to the MIDB"

The presenters for this session are:
Michael Georgieff, MD
Damien Fair, PD-C, PhD 
Location: MIDB Multipurpose Room 1-510 Annex
Time: 4 pm - 5:30 pm

Wednesday, June 15th:

  • MINDS Presents: Post Baccalaureate and Research Technician Poster Session

Minnesota Inclusive Neuroscience Development Scholars (MINDS) invites all post-baccs and technicians working in neuroscience-related labs to present posters to showcase their work and meet other UMN researchers!  We will have a poster session, lunch, and time for networking and poster awards. Everyone is welcome to attend. 
Link to sign up to attend and/or present a poster. Deadline to sign up to present a poster is June 8th.

Nils Hasselmo Hall Atrium and Room 2-101
11:00 am - 2:00 pm