Dr. Martin's research and scholarly interests include the molecular basis, diagnosis, and treatment of drug use disorders with an emphasis on substance-induced mental disorders and co-occurring psychiatric disorders. This includes investigations of the molecular biology of thiamine; magnetic resonance spectroscopy and functional magnetic resonance imaging to elucidate the pathogenesis of addiction and alcohol-induced brain damage; the clinical pharmacology of addictive substances; pharmacogenomic factors in treatment of opioid dependence and psychiatric disorders during pregnancy.
The focus of our lab is to understand the neural mechanisms underlying withdrawal in alcohol use disorders. Withdrawal is an aversive, stress-like state marked by heightened negative affect, anxiety, and recruitment of brain stress systems. Heightened stress and anxiety during withdrawal creates a major challenge for successful recovery, yet little is known about this critical phase of addiction. Our approach includes collection of clincal measures, self-report, physiological responses, stress hormones, and neuroimaging data to elucidate the role of anxiety neurocircuitry during abstinence and determine whether individual differences in negative affect predict relapse in humans.
The overarching goal of our laboratory is understand the neurobiological mechanisms by which organisms cope with and adapt to stress, how dysregulation of these mechanisms leads to pathological conditions including mood and anxiety disorders and addiction, and to utilize these biological insights to develop new and innovative treatment approaches for mood and anxiety disorders. We focus is on understanding the developmental, molecular, and synaptic adaptations in endogenous cannabinoid signaling systems that occur in animal models of psychiatric disease. By understanding endocannabinoid adaptations that occur during the development of mental illness, we hope to uncover novel molecular targets for drug development.
Addiction is understood as a long-lasting change in brain function outlasting withdrawal. Relapse driven by learned associations (cue, context) as well as by mental state transitions (stress, anxiety) can occur long after obvious negative consequences of cessation of drug intake have stopped. Thus, intense focus is being placed on neural mechanisms driving drug “craving” sensation and initiation of relapse to intake after extinction. Our lab takes a combination of brain slice electrophysiological and biochemical approaches coupled with behavioral analysis in mice to begin to determine the lasting changes produced by drugs of abuse that induce relapse behavior.
The goal of the Grueter lab research program is to advance the current understanding of the nucleus accumbens (NAc), a brain region responsible for integrating information from diverse inputs and modifying complex motivated behaviors, including its involvement in adaptive responses to rewarding and aversive stimuli. Specifically, we strive to elucidate the molecular constituents in the NAc that are necessary and sufficient to drive complex motivated behaviors.