Neuromodulation via Cannabinoids

With the recent legalization of cannabis in the State of Nevada, we have intensified our efforts to understand the actions and effects of cannabinoids on neuromodulation. In particular, we are investigating the roles that interneuron and glia cell signaling mechanisms play in mediating the effects of both endogenous and exogenous cannabinoids. We are interested in the mechanisms of action of individual components of cannabis, as well as how they act in concert with one another at cell, circuit, and behavioral levels. We are also interested in the clinical applications of cannabis components, and are examining the mechanisms of action and efficacy of individual compounds in animal models of epilepsy, and other disorders of the nervous system.

Dr. Dustin Hines

My scientific career has been polarized by the fact that glia cells outnumber neurons at a ratio of roughly 9:1 and yet so little is known about the functions of these cells in the nervous system. Our lab investigates from level of the gene to behavior approach to study the nervous system, including work with genetically modified mouse strains, biochemistry, brain slice electrophysiology (field recording and patch clamp), in vivo two photon imaging, electroencephalography, and excellence in behavioral assessment. With these tools we have researched the function of non-neuronal cells in normal and pathological conditions. The contributions of microglia to the response to acute damage, and also in anhedonia and depression related to sickness behavior are one focus in the lab. We also have novel projects investigating the contributions of astrocytes and other glial cells to sleep, psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders including major depressive disorder and AD. We have recently developed a new set of optogenetic tools that mimics signaling mechanisms in astrocytes to continue to address the functions of glial cells in the central nervous system. We are excited about research and hope you are too!

Dr. Rochelle Hines

Rochelle Hines’ research is aimed at understanding neurodevelopmental processes under normal and pathological conditions, which include autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia, and developmental epilepsies. In particular, Rochelle’s studies focus on understanding the formation and stabilization of specific synapse types during development, with an emphasis on inhibitory synapses. Rochelle employs molecular genetics, biochemistry, confocal and electro microscopy, behavioral assessments and electroencephalography in mouse models to gain understanding of how inhibitory synapse function and dysfunction during development impacts brain signaling, circuitry and behavior. The ultimate goal of Rochelle’s research is to improve our understanding of neurodevelopmental disorders and to promote novel therapeutic strategies.