Recent Grants in Biomedical Sciences

David BakerDr. David Baker received a $2.2 million grant from the National Institute of Drug Abuse for his study on signaling activity in the brain and what effect it has on drug-seeking behavior and addiction.

The grant, titled “PACAP-Dependent Coordination of Glutamate Signaling between Neurons and Astrocytes,” seeks to further explore how signaling activity in the brain occurs and what effect it has on drug-seeking behavior and addiction.

 Brain function is based on the coordinated activity of two types of brain cells: neurons and astrocytes. Glutamate is a molecule in the brain required for cellular communication between these two cells. But how the brain coordinates that cellular signaling could hold answers into the neural basis of addiction and related disorders.

Baker and his team believe that a neuropeptide – a small, protein-like molecule in the brain – called PACAP may be the key to how glutamate signaling is coordinated. The grant will allow an in-depth study of PACAP and its role in neural signaling.


John MantschDrs. John Mantsch and Matthew Hearing received a $1.7 million R01 grant for their study on substance use disorder in women.

The project, titled “Estrogen regulation of the prefrontal cortex and drug seeking,” aims to identify the role biological sex – specifically the hormone estrogen – plays in disordered substance use and relapse.

The pair identified and will further study a novel mechanism in the brain through which estrogen acutely promotes drug seeking by affecting the prefrontal cortex in those with previous substance abuse disorders.


Matt HearningDr. Matthew Hearing also received a $400,000 R21 grant his study on prolonged stress and its role in neuropsychiatric disease.

The project, “Identifying contributions of prefrontal cortical circuit plasticity to stress-induced deficits in cognitive function,” examines the impact of psychosocial and environmental stressors on the function of prefrontal cortex circuits responsible for cognitive control, and how this impacts risk and severity of neuropsychiatric diseases such as  major depression disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenia.


GilmartinDr. Marieke Gilmartin received a $400,000 grant for her study on sex-specific regulation of prefrontal-amygdala circuits and fear memory.

The project, "Sex differences in the epigenetic regulation of aversive experience and fear memory," seeks to understand the role of brain structures like the prefrontal cortex and amygdala in detecting and responding to stress and trauma.