Graduate Studies Faculty
Andrey E. Ryabinin, Ph.D.
Neuroscience Graduate Program
Research Interests:alcoholism, drug addiction, neuropeptides, stress, social neuroscience » PubMed Listing
Preceptor RotationsAcademic Term Available Fall 2013 Maybe Summer 2013 Maybe Winter 2014 Maybe Spring 2014 Maybe
Faculty MentorshipDr. Ryabinin might be available as a mentor for 2013-2014.
Summary of Current Research
Research in my laboratory is broadly directed at genetic and social factors contributing to alcohol abuse, drug addiction and other mental disorders. This direction can be divided into two related topics. First, we are investigating the roles of stress peptides in alcohol abuse and drug addiction. Second, we are developing novel animal models to study the interactions between social factors, stress, alcohol abuse and drug addiction.
Stress peptides in alcohol abuse and drug addiction.
Stress can profoundly change many aspects of behavior and physiology in humans and other animals. This change is thought to be mediated by the corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) system. This system consists of CRF and related peptides urocortin 1, urocortin 2 and urocortin 3. These peptides are distributed in the brain in a partially overlapping manner and have differential affinities for CRF1 and CRF2 receptors and the CRF binding protein. Our research using genetic, molecular and physiological approaches has shown that different components of this system contribute to various aspects of alcohol and drug abuse. For example urocortin 1-expressing neurons of the centrally-projecting Edinger-Westphal nucleus regulate alcohol consumption in non-dependent animals. This regulation likely involves the ghrelin receptor expressed at very high levels in this brain area. On the other hand, our studies in knockout mice indicate that peptides preferentially acting on the CRF2 receptors (such as urocortin 2 and urocortin 3) contribute to the sensitivity to the highly-addictive psychostimulant methamphetamine. This effect engages neurons located in the basolateral amygdala. We are continuing this line of research with the hope of developing novel therapeutic approaches for alcohol and drug addiction and other stress-related disorders.
Social neurobiology, stress and alcohol abuse
While stress has long been considered a non-specific reaction of an organism to external threat, it has become clear that social stress is a qualitatively different process than other types of stress. While it is important to develop approaches to counteract the negative effects of social influences (and help promote positive social influences), it has been extremely difficult to model them in traditional laboratory rodents. My laboratory has adapted prairie vole model to study these influences. Prairie voles are unusual rodents because they are capable of forming long-term bonds between individual animals in contrast to majority of other mammals. Using this species we have shown that individual animals within a pair influence each other's behavior. Specifically, they can module each other's intake of alcohol and therefore can be used to model social influences on alcohol abuse. This model is highly promising not only for understanding social aspects of alcohol abuse, but also for understanding why many current therapies fail to help patients recovering from alcohol addiction.
- M.D. (1985) 2nd Moscow Medical Institute, Russia
- Ph.D. (1991) Institute of Normal Physiology, Moscow, Russia
- Postdoctoral Research Associate, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla
- Junior Research Fellow, Institute of Normal Physiology, Moscow, Russia