News & Events

Pills with text: Medical Discovery Team- Addiction

Dr. Arif Hamid joins the MDTA!

Dr. HamidArif Hamid, PhD, and a Howard Hughes Gray fellow has joined the University of Minnesota’s Medical Discovery Team on Addiction (MDTA).  Dr. Hamid’s research investigates brain mechanisms for flexible behavioral control. In particular, the lab will focus on the role of the neurotransmitter dopamine and the cortico-basal ganglia circuit in reinforcement learning.  The MDTA is extremely excited to have him joining the team!

Dr. Jocelyn Richards Receives $2.3 million grant from the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

Dr. RichardDr. Jocelyn Richard, PhD, an assistant professor in the Medical Discovery Team on Addiction (MDTA), has received a five-year, $2.3 million grant from the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, titled: "Glutamatergic basal forebrain neurons in aversion-resistant drinking.”  Dr. Richard will be studying compulsive use of alcohol, or drinking alcohol despite negative consequences. Read more about her research in this recent article.

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

Graduate Program in Neuroscience Colloquium

Wednesday, September 15th, 12:00-1:00 pm: The Center for Neural Circuits in Addiction will be providing a lecture outlining the services that are provided to the neuroscience research community with their four separate cores: Viral Innovations, Structural Circuits, Imaging Cells during Behavior, and Addiction Connectomes.