Phone: (919) 843-7140
B.S., Psychology, Chemistry Minor, University of Washington
Ph.D., Neurobiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Postdoctoral training, Ernest Gallo Clinic & Research Center, University of California, San Francisco
Dr. Stuber’s lab is interested in delineating the precise neural circuitry that underlies maladaptive behaviors that are implicated in a variety of neurological and neuropsychiatric illnesses. To accomplish this, the lab uses an array of complementary cutting-edge methodologies to study neural circuit function both in vivo and ex vivo in rodent models of disease. One particular line of research is focused on understanding the neural circuit mechanisms that regulated the activity and function midbrain dopamine neurons. Dopamine neurotransmission is critical for a variety of important behaviors related to movement, motivation, and affective behaviors. Recently, the Stuber lab has identified key neural circuit elements that innervate the ventral midbrain that can directly and indirectly regulate dopamine neuron function and motivated behavioral states. The lab discovered that midbrain GABAergic neurons can directly suppress the function of neighboring dopamine neurons and that enhancing that activity of these GABAergic neurons suppresses motivated behavior by suppressing the firing of dopamine neurons. In addition, excitatory inputs from the lateral habenula form functional synapses onto these midbrain GABAergic neurons. The lab has shown that this pathway from the lateral habenula to the midbrain promotes aversive behavioral states. The lab currently has a number of additional projects investigating precise neural circuit function in brain regions such as the amygdala, prefrontal cortex, hypothalamus, and VTA. The long-term goal of the lab is to identify precise alterations in neural circuit function that occur in disease states in order to inform the design of pharmacological and genetic therapies that can selectively impinge on identified neural circuit elements.