The overarching goal of our research is to understand the role of bioactive lipids including endocannabinoids (eCBs) in the pathophysiology of severe psychiatric disorders including depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. Our programs focus is on understanding the developmental, molecular, and synaptic adaptations in eCB signaling that occur in animal models of psychiatric disease. By understanding bioactive lipid adaptations that occur during the development of mental illness we hope to uncover novel molecular targets for drug development. We also evaluate the effects of genetic and pharmacological modulation of lipid signaling components in preclinical models of psychiatric disorders. We are also interested in the fundamental cellular and circuit-level mechanisms regulating emotional behavior and the experience-dependent neuroplasticity underlying learning and memory formation. By integrating analyses across multiple levels, from molecules to circuits, we hope to develop integrated models of how specific signaling systems interact with hard-wired neural circuits to sculpt complex behavior, and how these systems are dysregulated in models of psychiatric illness. We hope such an approach will ultimately yield novel insights into the pathophysiology and treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders.
Sachin Patel, MD, PhD