Wendy Lynch, Ph.D.
Department of Psychiatry and Neurobiological Sciences
University of Virginia College of Medicine
My laboratory uses behavioral, pharmacological, and molecular techniques to delineate the neurobiological basis of addiction. We are particularly interested in determining the biological basis of sex differences in vulnerability to addiction. Our work has shown that females are more vulnerable than males to the reinforcing effects of drugs during the different phases of the addiction process including acquisition, maintenance, escalation, and relapse. We are examining a number of biological factors that may underlie these sex differences including hormones, age, dopaminergic signaling, as well as interactions between these factors. Another area of interest is on pharmacotherapies for treating addiction. The use of animal models is critical to determining the process by which potential medications for treating drug addiction exert their behavioral-pharmacological effects. Such information will help guide the development and use of medications for drug addiction treatment in humans. Ultimately, animal models of addiction will be very useful for understanding the neurobiological basis of addiction, determining potential treatments, and identifying individuals at risk for drug addiction.