Karla KaunAssistant Professor of Neuroscience, Robert and Nancy Carney Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
I'm interested in understanding the genetic, molecular and neural mechanisms underlying reward. We do this by looking at how memories for appetitive stimuli are encoded in the brain and how drugs of abuse affect the molecular pathways in these circuits to result in aberrant motivational response. We use a number of approaches to answer these questions including behavior, molecular biology, biochemistry and systems neuroscience. The lab is currently: 1) developing new behavioral models to study memory for alcohol intoxication, 2) using molecular genetics approaches to map circuits for aversive and appetitive memories of alcohol, 3) using live imaging to study how these circuit act in vivo while an animal is behaving, and 4) investigating the molecular mechanisms within these circuits that affect neuronal plasticity and function.
Aso Y, Sitaraman D, Ichinose T, Kaun KR, Vogt K, Belliart-Geurin G, Placaise PY, Robie AA, Yamagata N, Schnaitmann C, Rowell WJ, JOhnston RM, Ngo TT, Chen N Korff W, Nitabach MN, Heberlein U, Preat T, Branson KM, Tanimoto H, Rubin GM (2014) Mushroom body output neurons encode valence and guide memory-based action selection in Drosophila. eLife 3: e04580.
Azanchi, R‡, Kaun, K.R.‡, Heberlein, U. (2013) Competing dopaminergic responses determine behavioral choice in Drosophila. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 110: 21153-8. ‡ These authors contributed equally to this work
Shohat-Ophir, G., Kaun, K.R., Azanchi, R., Mohammed, H., Heberlein, U. (2012) Sexual deprivation increases ethanol intake in Drosophila. Science, 335, 1351-5.
Kaun, K.R.‡, Devineni, A.V.‡, Heberlein, U. (2012) Drosophila as a model to study drug addiction (Review article). Human Genetics 131, 959-75. ‡These authors contributed equally to this work.
Kaun, K.R., Azanchi, R., Maung, Z., Hirsh, J. and Heberlein, U. (2011) A Drosophila model for alcohol reward. Nature Neuroscience, 14, 612-9.
My lab uses the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster to investigate the neural substrates of drug reward at the molecular and cellular level by mapping areas in the fly brain that regulate alcohol reward, and uncovering genes and pathways never-before implicated in memory of alcohol reward.
The goal of my research program is to understand the molecular and neural mechanisms underlying drug addiction. I use the powerful molecular and genetic tools available in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, to investigate the neural substrates of drug reward at the molecular and cellular level. A compact genome, tiny brain, and impressive toolbox of sophisticated neurogenetic tools make the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, a prime model to understand the neural substrate of behavior. Drosophila show remarkably long-lasting memories for a cue associated with an intoxicating dose of alcohol. In my lab, we investigate the neural circuitry and associated molecular mechanisms within the fly brain that regulate this memory. This interdisciplinary approach, which combines behavioural neuroscience, genetics, neuropharmacology and molecular biology, has the potential to contribute novel mechanisms that regulate memories associated with drug experience.
RI-INBRE Early Career Development Award 2P20GM103430: The role of Notch signaling in alcohol reward memory
Smith Family Award for Excellence in Biomedical Research: Neuro-molecular mechanisms of alcholism
Rhode Island Foundation Medical Research Fund 20144133
BIBS Center for Nervous System Function COBRE Project Principle Investigator Award 5P20GM103645-03 (NIGMS)
Recent advances in molecular biology and molecular genetics have allowed researchers to test specific hypotheses concerning the genetic control of behavior and neurological disease. This course will familiarize you with the relatively new and exciting field of neurogenetics. We will cover basic topics, new ideas, and unsolved problems in neurogenetics primarily through the two assigned texts. However, neurogenetics is essentially a “frontier” area in neuroscience, and the best way to approach this topic is by scientific literature, which will be covered in some lectures. Information derived from various animal model systems, including humans, will be covered with a focus on techniques such as classical genetics, molecular genetics, genomics, and behavioral neurobiology.
NEUR 1040 - Introduction to Neurogenetics. Spring 2015.