BS 1998 University of Oklahoma (Psychology and Chemistry)
MS 1995, PhD 1998 University of Kentucky (Experimental Psychology)
Postdoctoral Fellowship 1998-2000 University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
(in the labs of Drs. Bryan Kolb and Ian Whishaw)
I am a behavioral neuroscientist, with a strong emphasis in psychopharmacology. My
research background actually began in the cognitive arena, analyzing underlying mechanisms
of behavioral ecological mechanisms in Dr. Lynn Devenport's lab at the University
of Oklahoma. This work continued in the laboratories of Dr. Phil Kraemer and Dr. Stephen
Scheff at the University of Kentucky studying ontogeny of learning and memory and
rodents, timing behavior in avians, as well as pharmacological approaches to improve
compensation after traumatic brain injury. I have always had a strong research interest
in brain plasticity and its response to experience.
At the end of my graduate school career, we began to analyze the effects of nicotine
on cognitive function and in a rodent model of traumatic brain injury. I carried on
this work in the laboratories of Drs. Bryan Kolb and Ian Whishaw at the University
of Lethbridge, expanding my interests into the effects of nicotine on brain plasticity
and compensation after brain injury.
I took a faculty position at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) in August of 2000,
and through a collaboration, began pursuing mechanisms of psychostimulant addiction
using a model of dopamine D2 receptor supersensitivity that originated in Dr. Rich
Kostrzewa's lab in the Department of Pharmacology in Quillen College of Medicine at
ETSU. Although Richs interests were more directed towards Parkinsons Disease and neurotoxicity,
I realized this model had potential as a model of schizophrenia. From that point on,
a major research focus in our lab centered on comorbidity in behavioral disorders,
especially substance abuse in schizophrenia using the neonatal quinpirole model.
Another recent focus has been to analyze the effects of methylphenidate on neural
plasticity. Thus far, we have found some interesting effects of methylphenidate that
are sex- and dose-dependent. We are currently beginning a series of studies to analyze
the co-administration of methylphenidate and nicotine in adolescent and adult rats
to analyze the effects of methyphenidate on the brains reward system.
- Substance abuse comorbidity in behavioral disorders
- Sex differences in the response to psychostimulants
- The consequences of drug treatment on neural plasticity
1.Substance abuse comorbidity in Schizophrenia: In this line of research, our laboratory
has analyzed the behavioral and neurochemical consequences of dopamine D2-like supersensitization.
The dopamine D2 receptor is increased in its sensitivity through neonatal quinpirole
(a dopamine D2/D3 agonist) treatment during the first three weeks of life in a rat.
This increase in sensitivity does not result in a change in receptor number, and persists
throughout the animals lifetime. Over several years of work, we have found that neonatal
quinpirole treatment enhances behavioral sensitization and rewarding effects of nicotine.
This is especially important because approximately 80% of schizophrenics smoke cigarettes,
and they smoke heavily. Ultimately, this results in a poor quality of life and shortens
the average lifespan in a smoking schizophrenic. Our primary interest here is to try
to identify behavioral and neurobiological targets for treating smoking in schizophrenia.
2.Consequences of Ritalin in Adolescence: A newer line of research involves studying
the behavioral and neurobiological effects of methylphenidate (trade name: Ritalin)
in adolescent male and female rats. Ritalin is the most often prescribed medication
for Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This disorder is also often incorrectly
diagnosed. Therefore, we are not currently using a model for this area of research,
but analyzing the effects of methylphenidate on behavioral sensitization and place
conditioning, as well as sex differences in these responses.
3.Behavioral diagnosticians: For various collaborations, we have become behavioral
diagnosticians. Essentially, we run behavioral tests for various collaborators, which
runs the gamut for manipulations including chronic stress, lentivirus manipulations,
cerebral ischemia, or traumatic brain injury.
Katherine (Kate) Burgess (BS ETSU 2012)
Kate is are “all everything” player for the lab. She is involved in all projects,
and keeps Dr. Brown straight on all current projects running in the lab. She’s the
W. Drew Gill (BS Davidson College 2015)
Drew has been involved in several studies, but is focusing his work towards two primary
projects: Epigenetic evidence in the neonatal quinpirole model, which data look very
promising, as well as getting involved in the work involved in the animal model of
Major Depression in collaboration with Dr. Ordway. Drew is about finished with his
qualifying examination and coursework, and is on track for defense of his dissertation
in 2019. In his spare time, he’s obsessed with the cycling, the Tour de France and
plays goalie (most of the time) on our adult rec soccer team.
Heath Shelton (BS ETSU 2017)
Heath is a master’s level Biomedical Sciences student and is just getting started
in our laboratory, but has already been involved in several different projects. We
look forward to his progress and keep up the good work!
Undergraduate Students (Fall 2017)
Anna Dean Pfeiffer
ACTIVE RESEARCH FUNDING
We are currently funded on an NIH R15 (Nicotine and roles of nicotinic receptors in
a rodent model of schizophrenia (NIH 1R15DA034912). We have been fortunate enough
to be funded by other extramural sources over the years, including Eli Lilly, Inc.,
Sepracor Pharmaceuticals, and Merz Pharmaceuticals.
1. Brown RW, Kirby SL, Denton AR, Dose JM, Cummins ED, Drew Gill W, Burgess KC.(2017).
An analysis of the rewarding and aversive associative properties of nicotine in the
neonatal quinpirole model: Effects on glial cell line-derived neurotrophicfactor (GDNF).
Schizophrenia Research. 2017 Mar 14. pii: S0920-9964(17):30161-5. PMID: 28314679.
2. Peterson DJ, Gill WD, Dose JM, Hoover DB, Pauly JR, Cummins ED, Burgess KC,
Brown RW. (2017). The effects of nicotine in the neonatal quinpirole rodent model
of psychosis: Neural plasticity mechanisms and nicotinic receptor changes. Behavioural
Brain Research. 325(Pt A):17-24. PMID: 28235586.
3. Szebeni A, Szebeni K, DiPeri TP, Johnson LA, Stockmeier CA, Crawford JD, Chandley
MJ, Hernandez LJ, Burgess KC, Brown RW, Ordway GA. (2017). Elevated DNA Oxidation
and DNA Repair Enzyme Expression in Brain White Matter in Major Depressive Disorder.
International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. 20(5):363-373. PMID: 28034960.
4. Cummins ED, Leedy KK, Dose JM, Peterson DJ, Kirby SL, Hernandez LJ, Brown RW.
(2017). The effects of adolescent methylphenidate exposure on the behavioral and brain-derived
neurotrophic factor response to nicotine. Journal of Psychopharmacology. 31(1):75-85.
5. Kostrzewa RM, Nowak P, Brus R, Brown RW. (2016). Perinatal Treatments with
the Dopamine D₂-Receptor Agonist Quinpirole Produces Permanent D₂-Receptor Supersensitization:
a Model of Schizophrenia. Neurochemical Research. 41(1-2):183-92. PMID: 26547196.
6. Danysz, W., Fink, G., McCreary, A., Tober, C., Dimpfel, W., Bizot, J. C., Kostrzewa,
R. M., Brown, R. W., Jetzke, C. C., Greco, S., Jensen, A. K., Parsons, C. G. (2015).
Effects of sarizotan in animal models of ADHD challenging PK-PD relationship. Journal
of Neural Transmission Mar 22 Epub ahead of print. PMID:25796190
7. Parsons, T., Brown, R. W., Pond, B. B. (accepted, European Review for Medical
and Pharmacological Sciences). Sex differences in the kinetic profiles of d- and l-
methylphenidate in the brains of adult rats.
8. Palmatier, M. I., Kellicut, M. R., Sheppard, A. B., Brown, R. W., Robinson,
D. L. (2014). The incentive amplifying effects of nicotine are reduced by selective
and non-selective dopamine antagonists in rats. Pharmacology, Biochemistry, & Behavior
9. Williams, M. T., Skelton, M. R., Longacre, I. D., Huggins, K. N., Maple, A.
M., Vorhees, C. V., Brown, R. W. (2014). Neuronal reorganization in adult rats neonatally
exposed to ()-3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine. In press. Toxicological Reports.
10. Roeding, R. L., Perna, M. K., Cummins ,E. D., Peterson, D. J., Palmatier, M.
I., Brown, R. W. (2014). Sex Differences in Adolescent Methylphenidate Sensitization:
Effects on Glial Cell-Derived Neurotrophic Factor and Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor.
Behavioural Brain Research