Reggie Cannady joined the Curriculum in the Fall of 2009 and has been hard at work ever since! Read below to learn about some of the interesting things he has accomplished...
NBIO: What does your current research focus on?
RC: My research is focused on the neuronal mechanisms that underlie excessive alcohol consumption and relapse-like behavior. Specifically, I study the role of enhanced glutamate activity at AMPA receptors in facilitating alcohol self-administration and cue-induced reinstatement of alcohol-seeking behavior in a genetic rodent model of high alcohol intake, the alcohol preferring (P-) rat. Given that alcoholism is characterized by repeated cycles of excessive drinking interspersed with periods of abstinence and subsequent relapse, this work has the potential to provide novel insights into the etiological course of alcoholism.
NBIO: What type of work in the lab does this entail? Does it require a great amount of work outside the lab?
RC: My work primarily consists of daily operant conditioning sessions in which rats have the opportunity to self-administer alcohol by pressing response levers within their operant chambers. Once animals are well-trained, we test the functional role of multiple proteins and signaling molecules in modulating alcohol drinking and relapse-like behavior via pharmacological manipulation with agonists, antagonists, peptide inhibitors, etc. Additionally, we investigate the neuroanatomical contributions of cell signaling pathways in modulating alcohol drinking behaviors by performing stereotaxic surgical procedures and performing site-specific microinjections of pharmacological compounds. Finally, we study the proteomic neuroadaptations that occur with acute and chronic alcohol exposure using western blot analysis, immunohistochemistry, and larger scale proteomic screens. My work doesn’t require much effort outside of the lab (with the exception of writing and keeping up with the literature). The majority of my lab work is done in the lab or the animal facility.
NBIO: What kind of hours does your research require? Can you explain a typical day in the lab?
RC: Hours vary with my research. It mainly depends on the amount of animals that are being tested at a given time. Behavioral testing receives high priority since our animals have a limited amount of time during each day that they can be tested. I would say close to 40-65% of my day is dedicated to behavioral testing. The other 35-60% is dedicated to data analysis, bench work (westerns/ immunohistochemistry), prepping/planning, reading and writing, attending meetings and seminars.
NBIO: What are your plans following your time spent at UNC?
RC: After my time at UNC, I hope to land an awesome post-doc position and build upon the outstanding graduate training that I’ve received thus far. I’m looking forward to building a competitive molecular skill set, as well as expanding my behavioral training. Ultimately, I hope run my own lab, or at least maintain some sense of academic freedom; regardless of setting (i.e. academia, government, or industry). I’m also looking forward to starting a family. I know that it is possible to be a great spouse, parent, and scientist because my advisors prove it every day.
NBIO: During your time at UNC, what is the most interesting event/activity your research/field of study has allowed you to be a part of?
RC: We recently visited a phenomenal local substance abuse program called “TROSA”, to gain a prospective of the impact that our research could potentially have on people’s lives. I was so inspired by the stories of these individuals overcoming their respective addictions and putting their lives back together through hard work and service to others.
NBIO: What is the best piece of advice you would give a student entering your field of study?
RC: My best piece of advice to new-comers is that whatever you put into your graduate training is what you should expect to get out of it. You become the master of your own destiny at this level and it is important to make the best of all of your opportunities.
NBIO: When you’re not in the lab/doing research, what types of activities do you enjoy doing?
RC: I love sports. Playing, watching… it doesn’t really matter. I just really enjoy competition. I love fishing, and have had great fishing outings with my fiancé and colleagues in the alcohol center. I also really enjoy listening to music and playing around with instruments.