Zoe McElligott, Ph.D.
Department of Psychiatry
Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies
Research in the McElligott lab focuses on the circuits and plasticity that underlie the development and manifestation of psychiatric illness, specifically disorders on the affective spectrum including: alcohol use disorders, drug abuse and anxiety disorders. The lab has expertise in studying neurotransmission from the level of signaling in individual cells through behavior utilizing a variety of techniques including: whole-cell electrophysiology, in vivo and ex vivo fast-scan cyclic voltammetry, circuit manipulations (optogenetics, chemogenetics, caspase ablation), and behavioral assays.
There are several ongoing projects in the lab. One area we are focused on explores the role of neurons in the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) that express the neuropeptide neurotensin and the role these neurons play in alcohol related phenotypes. Additionally we are interested in exploring how norepinephrine modulates neurotransmission within the brain and how the norepinephrine system itself is modulated in models of substance abuse (both opioid and alcohol use disorders) and post-traumatic stress. We collaborate with many labs within BCAS, and have an active and ongoing collaboration with the Hodge Lab to examine excitatory transmission in the basolateral amygdala (BLA) to nucleus accumbens (NAc) circuit. Beyond these studies, we are actively engaged in several other collaborative projects with other neuroscience and pharmacology labs at UNC, as well as around the world.