PhD: University of Colorado Boulder, 2018
Area of Specialization: Clinical Psychology and Neuroscience with a specialization in addictive disorders.
Teaching Courses: PSY 410, Psychobiology of Addictions
Monday- | Tuesday- | Wednesday- | Thursday- | Friday- | By Appointment-
Current Research: Broadly, my research aims to characterize neural, molecular and behavioral mechanisms underlying the etiology of alcohol use disorders, in an effort to inform treatment development. More specifically, I am interested in how functional impairments along the microbiota-gut-brain-axis (MGBA; which refers to bidirectional interactions between gut microbes, endocrine, autonomic, enteric, immune and central nervous systems) may promote alcohol use behavior and serve as potential treatment targets. In recent years, my work has increasingly emphasized the role of the endogenous cannabinoid system - which is distributed heavily throughout the brain and gut - in the context of alcohol use disorders. Thus, I am conducting several studies measuring the impact of phytocannabinoids (primarily cannabidiol [CBD] and tetrahydrocannabinol [THC]) on behavioral phenotypes related to alcohol use disorder (alcohol consumption, craving, intoxication) and on biomarkers across the MGBA (brain structure and function, peripheral inflammation, intestinal permeability, gut microbial composition). To this end, I combine behavioral measures, molecular biology methods, neuroimaging and high throughput 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing to explore the impact of alcohol and cannabis on the MGBA and behavior. Because this work involves acute administration of various cannabis products, my research also makes use of a Mobile Drug Administration Laboratory which adheres to federal guidelines restricting cannabis administration in academic research.
Karoly Lab: Our team is composed of faculty, research assistants, graduate students and undergraduate students interested in the experimental study of substance use disorders from a biopsychosocial perspective. Our research involves leveraging molecular biology methods, neuroimaging techniques and the innovative Mobile Drug Administration Laboratory (MDAL) to better understand the causes and consequences of substance use behavior. We disseminate our work through research publications, participation in scientific conferences and community engagement. Our work is both translational and highly interdisciplinary, combining psychology, neuroscience, immunology, and genetics in the service of improving our understanding of addictive processes and ultimately improving treatment options.