Skip to main content

Assistant Professor
Department of Psychiatry
Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies

Office | 5101 Thurston-Bowles Bldg, CB#7178
Email |
Lab Website |
Biographical Biosketch | pdf

Research Interests

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 and post-traumatic stress. Beyond these studies, we are actively engaged in several other collaborative projects with other labs at UNC, as well as around the world.

Recent Publications

Click here for a full list of publications from PubMed

Manipulations of Central Amygdala Neurotensin Neurons Alter the Consumption of Ethanol and Sweet Fluids in Mice. Torruella-Suárez ML, Vandenberg JR, Cogan ES, Tipton GJ, Teklezghi A, Dange K, Patel GK, McHenry JA, Hardaway JA, Kantak PA, Crowley NA, DiBerto JF, Faccidomo SP, Hodge CW, Stuber GD, McElligott ZA.J Neurosci. 2020 Jan 15;40(3):632-647. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1466-19.2019. Epub 2019 Nov 19.PMID: 31744862

Divergent behavioral responses in protracted opioid withdrawal in male and female C57BL/6J mice. Bravo IM, Luster BR, Flanigan ME, Perez PJ, Cogan ES, Schmidt KT, McElligott ZA.Eur J Neurosci. 2020 Feb;51(3):742-754. doi: 10.1111/ejn.14580. Epub 2019 Oct 6.PMID: 31544297

Inhibitory transmission in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis in male and female mice following morphine withdrawal. Luster BR, Cogan ES, Schmidt KT, Pati D, Pina MM, Dange K, McElligott ZA.Addict Biol. 2019 Apr 9:10.1111/adb.12748. doi: 10.1111/adb.12748. Online ahead of print.PMID: 30963693

Dissecting the Catecholamines: How New Approaches Will Facilitate the Distinction between Noradrenergic and Dopaminergic Systems. Schmidt KT, McElligott ZA.ACS Chem Neurosci. 2019 Apr 17;10(4):1872-1874. doi: 10.1021/acschemneuro.9b00157. Epub 2019 Mar 28.PMID: 30920796

Stress-Induced Alterations of Norepinephrine Release in the Bed Nucleus of the Stria Terminalis of Mice. Schmidt KT, Makhijani VH, Boyt KM, Cogan ES, Pati D, Pina MM, Bravo IM, Locke JL, Jones SR, Besheer J, McElligott ZA.ACS Chem Neurosci. 2019 Apr 17;10(4):1908-1914. doi: 10.1021/acschemneuro.8b00265. Epub 2018 Sep 28.PMID: 30252438