Background I obtained my HBSc and PhD at the University of Toronto in Canada. During my graduate work with Dr. José Nobrega, I studied deep brain stimulation (DBS) applied to the basal ganglia in models of movement disorders. Using molecular biology, neuroimaging, neurochemistry and behavioral pharmacology, I investigated the neural mechanisms underlying the adverse psychiatric effects and therapeutic motor effects of DBS.
For post-doctoral training, I moved to the lab of Dr. Christian Lüscher at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. Here, I used optogenetics and electrophysiology to understand how cocaine drives adaptations in the ventral basal ganglia circuitry, and how these adaptations contribute to the diverse symptoms of addiction. Using this insight, I developed a novel protocol for DBS that reversed cocaine-evoked synaptic plasticity in the nucleus accumbens and abolished maladaptive behavior induced by cocaine exposure.
In order to treat any condition, we must first understand its underlying pathology. To this end, my research interest seeks to integrate a variety of approaches to understand how plasticity in the ventral basal ganglia mediates behaviors such as reward-seeking, risk tolerance and hedonic valuation of rewards. My ultimate goal is to develop neuromodulation strategies that would regulate basal ganglia circuit function in models of mood, chronic pain and substance-use disorders, and could be used to treat symptoms of these conditions.
Selected Honors 2019 Lecturer: Cold Spring Harbor Ion Channels Course Rita Allen Foundation Scholar Award in Pain
2018 CEBRA - Cutting Edge Basic Research Award - Ad Hoc Reviewer Travel Award, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology
2017 Editorial Board: International Journal of Neuromodulation Molecular Neuropharmacology and Signaling (MNPS) Study Section - Ad Hoc Reviewer Science AAAS-PINS Inaugural Prize In Neuromodulation
2016 Travel Award, International Dopamine Meeting Prix Pfizer de le Recherch / Pfizer Research Prize for Outstanding Translational Research
Current Funding Whitehall Foundation Research Grant A non-canonical population of ventral pallidal neurons mediates aversion learning
NIDA Cutting Edge Basic Research Award (CEBRA) A novel deep brain stimulation protocol to prevent relapse driven by negative reinforcement
NARSAD Young Investigator Grant, Brain and Behavior Research Foundation Cellular adaptations underlying learned helplessness behavior
Rita Allen Foundation Scholar Award, American Pain Society Synaptic adaptations underlying affective symptoms of chronic pain