Dr. Judy Grisel

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Research Statement

Dr. Grisel studies the role of b-endorphin in motivation in order to better understand the influence of endogenous opioids in processes associated with drug use and abuse and, in broad terms, to gain knowledge about how peptides contribute to behavior. Much of her research is aimed at elucidating factors that lead to a predisposition toward drug addiction and has recently been focused on the role of beta-endorphin. Though addiction, like all complex behaviors, results from the interplay of genetic and environmental factors, levels of this peptide are correlated with a heritable susceptibility to alcoholism.

To study the mechanisms underlying this relationship Grisel employs inbred strains of mice to parse contributions from genes, experience and their interaction. For example, research in her laboratory has demonstrated that transgenic mice with varying levels of this endogenous opioid behave differently in measures of drug and stress sensitivity, and that alcohol's effects on stress-related behaviors are dependent upon b-endorphin. Moreover, the relationships between b-endorphin and alcohol and b-endorphin and stress are sex-dependent. Her overarching goal in these studies is to understand how a biologic predisposition involving low basal endorphin is influenced by factors such as stress and hormones to produce changes in gene transcription, neurotransmission and ultimately, behavior.

Grisel has extensive experience studying opioid systems, beginning with graduate training at the University of Colorado in the laboratory of Steven Maier where she investigated the role of stress and learning on opiod tolerance (Grisel et al., 1993, 1994, 1996). As a postdoctoral fellow with John Crabbe at OHSU, she sought to expand her knowledge of behavioral pharmacology to include genetics and has spend the ensuing years investigating the interplay of biologic and contextual influences on behavior.

More than 60 Furman students have conducted research in her laboratory, most of these have had the opportunity to present their studies at national meetings, and about a dozen have been published in peer-reviewed journals.

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Oral Self Administration of Ethanol in Transgenic Mice Lacking B-Endorphin

B-Endorphin Mediates Behavioral Despair and the Effect of Ethanol on the Tail Suspension Test in Mice

Influence of B-Endorphin on Anxious Behavior in Mice: Interaction with EtOH

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