Camron D. Bryant, Ph.D.
Professor of Pharmacology and Psychiatry
Dr. Bryant is the Director of the Laboratory of Addiction Genetics. Dr. Bryant’s research program is focused on determining the genetic basis of behavioral and molecular traits relevant to substance dependence in mice. The ultimate goal is to improve our understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms of addiction and to translate these findings toward treatment and prevention strategies in humans. A current focus is to determine the genetic basis of the rewarding properties of opioids in mice by combining quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis of behavior and gene expression in genetic reference populations that yield high resolution QTLs. This multi-pronged approach to gene mapping will accelerate the nomination of candidate genes for validation via direct gene targeting. A separate focus with regard to functional characterization of candidate genes is the dissection of the hypothesized opposing roles of casein kinase-1 (CK-1) isoforms in regulating dopaminergic signaling and the motivational properties of drugs of abuse. Last, Dr. Bryant has a longstanding interest in deciphering the neurobiological basis of the “placebo effect”, a phenomenon that has been hypothesized to be mediated by the reward expectation. He plans to develop and apply a forward genetic analysis toward Pavlovian conditioning mouse models across a variety of conditions that are notoriously sensitive to the placebo effect, including pain, anxiety, depression, and Parkinson’s Disease.
June 15, 2015: Joshua Wortzel started his summer position in the lab. Josh is a rising second-year medical student at Stanford University and is funded by the Stanford Medical Scholar Program to study the molecular mechanisms of the placebo effect. Josh also has an interest in hypnotism and other forms of alternative medicine. This summer he will study the correlation between placebo responsiveness and conditioned opioid reward behaviors in mice. His goal is to apply Pavlovian conditioning strategies that he learns this summer toward future studies involving the immune system.
June 1, 2015: Jenna Grant started her summer position in the lab working under the guidance of Neema Yazdani, Ph.D. candidate in the laboratory. Jenna is a summer intern who is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and is currently investigating methamphetamine-induced signaling in casein kinase 1-epsilon knockout mice. Jenna is currently an undergraduate researcher at the University of New Orleans and is majoring in biology. Her future plan is to complete a Ph.D. in neurobiology/neuroscience.
May 15, 2015: Dr. Bryant (PI) was awarded 1R01DA039168-01A1, “Bridging genetic variation with behavior: Molecular and functional mechanisms of quantitative trait gene regulation of the stimulant and addictive properties of methamphetamine in mice”. Dr. Karen Szumlinski is a Co-I on the grant and the two labs will use genome editing, RNA-seq, immunohistochemistry, and in vivo microdialysis to elucidate the role of Hnrnph1 in methamphetamine addiction-relevant behaviors.
May 15, 2015: Dr. Bryant’s abstract, “Food, Drugs, and QTLs: Mapping behavioral addiction traits in the Reduced Complexity Cross”, was accepted for an oral presentation for the 2015 Complex Trait Community Meeting in Portland, Oregon. Lisa will be presenting her work regarding behavioral and transcriptome analysis of casein kinase 1-epsilon knockout mice. In addition to presenting a poster, Lisa will also be participating in a Data Blitz where she will present new data where she has identified QTLs influencing behaviors associated with opioid reward and aversion.
May 8, 2015: Lisa Goldberg, senior Ph.D. candidate in the lab, won a travel award for the 2015 International Narcotics Research Conference to be held in Phoenix, AZ (http://www.inrcworld.org/2015/2015mtg.htm
April 23, 2015: Dr. Bryant was elected by the Society as Member at Large for the International Behavioural and Neural Genetics Society for 2015-2018. Members-at-large work with the President and Executive Committee on specific issues, including website management, updating the news section, and maintaining communication with other meetings and societies such as FENS
March 27, 2015: Kelsey Landaverde, undergraduate researcher in the Laboratory of Addiction Genetics, received a competitive UROP stipend award to study the mechanisms of placebo responding to anxiolytic treatment in mice. This project is part of a long-term goal to develop mouse models of placebo responding that can be subjected to forward genetic analysis. The “Placebo Effect” is a clinical phenomenon whereby patients, in particular those paitents experiencing pain, Parkinson’s disease, depression, or anxiety are particularly prone to exhibiting symptomatic relief in response to biologically inert substances that have no clinical utility. A long-standing hypothesis in the field is that the expectation of reward induces a neurobiolgical response that mediates symptomatic, though the neurobiological mechanisms by which these responses are induced remain largely unknown. Phenotypic variation in placebo responding suggests a genetic component; thus, the identification of novel genes mediating placebo-like responding in mice could have translational impact for understanding the genetic basis of placebo responding in humans.
March 11, 2015: Neema Yazdani, a third year PhD candidate and Biomolecular Pharmacology student in Dr. Bryant’s lab, is one of two graduate students selected for the 2015 “Outstanding Graduate Student Travel Award” for the 17th Annual International Behavioral and Neural Genetics Society (IBANGS) Meeting in Uppsala, Sweden. As a recipient of this award, Neema is invited to present his research as an oral presentation titled, “Hnrnph1 is a quantitative trait gene for methamphetamine sensitivity”. Neema’s efforts in generating and phenotyping TALENs-targeted Hnrnph1 knockout mice combined with striatal transcriptome analysis via RNA-seq led to the identification of Hnrnph1 as a novel quantitative trait gene involved in the stimulant response to methamphetamine. His transcriptome results suggest that Hnrnph1 could regulate the neural development of the mesocorticolimbic circuitry which would have widespread implications for understanding the etiology of a variety of neurobiological disorders involving a dysregulation of dopamine transmission.
January 6, 2015: Olga Lacki (Boston University Junior, Neuroscience Major) has once again received stipend support from BU’s UROP program for undergraduate research. Olga will continue to investigate the role of Csnk1e in signaling and addiction traits in response to drugs of abuse. Congratulations to Olga and a thank you to UROP for continuing to fund the research in our lab!
January 5, 2015: Dr. Bryant received the Jack Spivack Excellence in Neurosciences Research Award at Boston University which recognizes and supports the research of an outstanding faculty member at Boston University School of Medicine who is pursuing neurosciences research. Award recipients shall be conducting either clinical or basic neurosciences research in the areas of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and/or other neurological disorders.
December 16, 2014: Stacey Kirkpatrick’s manuscript, “Behavioral architecture of opioid reward and aversion in C57BL/6 substrains” was accepted for publication in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. Here, Stacey applied factor analysis toward multiple behaviors that were assessed in the conditioned place preference/aversion paradigm (CPP/CPA) and identified novel relationships that account for behavioral variation in oxycodone reward versus naloxone aversion. These results enhance our understanding of the behavioral structure of motivated behavior and provide a novel approach to assessing the genetic basis of substance abuse liability.
October 21, 2014: Dr. Bryant’s symposium proposal, “Genomic and neurobiological studies of RNA binding proteins in complex traits relevant to psychiatric disorders”, has been accepted for the 2015 Winter Conference on Brain Research in Big Sky, MA, to be held January 24-29.
July 25, 2014: Lisa Goldberg, Senior Graduate Student and Ph.D. Candidate in the Laboratory of Addiction Genetics, was accepted into the Short Course on the Genetics of Addiction at The Jackson Laboratory (http://courses.jax.org/2014/addiction.html) and was awarded a $1200 scholarship to attend the course by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
June 20, 2014: Neema Yazdani, Graduate Student and Ph.D. Candidate in the Laboratory of Addiction Genetics, was accepted into the Short Course on the Genetics of Addiction at The Jackson Laboratory (http://courses.jax.org/2014/addiction.html). Neema is currently a trainee in the Transformative Training Program in Addiction Science (TTPAS; http://www.bumc.bu.edu/gms/ttpas/). TTPAS has generously agreed to provide funding for Neema to attend the course.
May 27, 2014: Dr. Bryant was awarded an R03 from NIDA, “Mapping G x E Interactions for Addiction Traits in a Reduced Complexity Cross”. The goal is to use closely related substrains of C57BL/6 mice to map gene by environment interactions in opioid reward, tolerance, and dependence caused by social drug cues of the cage mates. The findings gleaned from these studies will aid in understanding how the social context of the drug environment can potentially interact with one’s genome to influence behavioral traits that comprise addiction.
May 10-14, 2014: Members of the Laboratory of Addiction Genetics, including Dr. Bryant, Lisa Goldberg, Neema Yazdani, and Stacey Kirkpatrick attended the International Behavioural and Neural Genetics Society meeting in Chicago, IL. Members of the lab presented posters on their research and Dr. Bryant chaired a symposium, “Behavioral, neural, and genetic studies of compulsive eating in model organisms and humans” and presented the Young Scientist Lecture, “Genes, brain and addiction Traits: Moving from discovery toward validation and mechanism.”
April 28, 2014: Dr. Bryant gave a lecture at the Center for Studies of Addiction at University of Pennsylvania titled, “Mouse genomics and the neurobiology of substance abuse behavior: From drugs to food.
April 18, 2014: Dr. Bryant gave a lecture in the Department of Psychology Seminar at Middlebury College titled, “From drugs to food: Genetic approaches to the neurobiology of substance abuse in mice.”
March 31, 2014: Olga Lacki, undergraduate researcher (Neuroscience major, minor in Visual Arts), was awarded a competitive UROP summer scholarship for undergraduate research. Olga’s project is focused on identifying differences in psychostimulant and opioid-induced changes in cell signaling in the striatum as a consequence of inheriting a null mutation in casein kinase 1-epsilon (Csnk1e).
January 25-30: Dr. Bryant attended the 47th Annual Winter Conference on Brain Research at Steamboat Springs, CO. He gave a talk in the “CK1 and brain function” symposium titled, “A role for casein kinase 1-epsilon in the motivational properties of drugs of abuse.”
January 11, 2014: Dr. Bryant’s symposium proposal for the 2014 IBANGS Meeting in Chicago, IL has been accepted as one of six symposia scheduled for this year’s meeting. The title of the symposium that Dr. Bryant will chair is, “Behavioral, neural and genetic studies of compulsive eating in model organisms and humans.”
January 7, 2014: Alexis Washburn, a freshman undergraduate researcher in the Laboratory of Addiction Genetics, won a competitive Undegraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) Grant Award at Boston University for the Spring 2014 semester. This award includes both a stipend and money to help cover research costs. Alexis will have the opportunity to present her research at the Undergraduate Research Symposium in the fall. Alexis’s project involves using QTL mapping to identify novel genetic factors influencing compulsive eating in mice and has relevance toward understanding the genetic and biological mechanisms of eating disorders in humans. The long-term goal is to develop new avenues for prevention and treatment of these highly lethal, neuropsychiatric disorders.
December 17, 2013: Dr. Bryant has been selected as the recipient of the 2014 IBANGS Young Scientist Award. The Young Scientist Award honors a scientist who is 7 or fewer years post first faculty or faculty-equivalent appointment, and whose area of research is in behavioural and neural genetics. Key considerations are the scientific importance of research discoveries, record of achievement and future scientific plans and projected impact on the field.
November 16, 2013: A manuscript co-authored by Dr. Bryant has been accepted in the journal, Sleep, titled “The circadian clock gene Csnk1e regulates REM sleep and NREM sleep architecture in mice.”
October 18, 2013: Dr. Bryant’s presentation abstract was selected for a Travel Fellowship for the 2014 Winter Conference on Brain Research to be held in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
October 16, 2013: Dr. Bryant has been invited to speak at the 47th Annual Winter Conference on Brain Research (WCBR) in Steamboat Springs, CO. He will be speaking in a symposium on CK1 and brain function. The title of his talk is, “A role for casein kinase 1-epsilon in the motivational properties of drugs of abuse.” He will be discussing Lisa Goldberg’s recent work regarding drug reward and dopaminergic signaling in CK1E knockout mice.
September 4, 2013. Dr. Bryant’s poster abstract, “A 0.23 Mb region regulates methamphetamine sensitivity in mice”, was selected among several hundred abstracts for a short oral presentation at the 2013 World Congress of Psychiatric Genetics (WCPG) held here in Boston. He will be speaking this Friday, October 18 during the afternoon poster talk workshop session (12:00-2:15 p.m.).
August 28, 2013: Neema Yazdani, M.S., second-year Ph.D. Student in Biomolecular Pharmacology in the Laboratory of Addiction Genetics, has been accepted into the Transformative Training Program in Addiction Science, supported by the Burroughs-Wellcome Fund and co-chaired by by Drs. Lindsay Farrer and Tim Heeren. For more information on this exciting multi-disciplinary training program in addiction see here (http://www.bumc.bu.edu/gms/ttpas/)
August 1, 2013: Neema Yazdani, M.S., second-year Ph.D. Student in Biomolecular Pharmacology, has joined the Laboratory of Addiction Genetics. Neema is using designer endonucleases to target novel candidate genes for methamphetamine-induced behavioral addiction traits and will be defining the cellular and molecular mechanisms of action that mediate genetic variation on behavior.
March 8, 2013: Dr. Bryant won the Outstanding Junior Faculty Travel Award for the 2013 International Behavioural and Neural Genetics Society (IBANGS) in Leuven, Belgium. Dr. Bryant’s abstract was selected for an invited talk that he will present during the Awardee session on May 21. In addition, Dr. Bryant will be provided with a stipend to cover his travel expenses.
December 3, 2012: Dr. Bryant presented his poster at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) meeting, “A 0.23 Mb region on mouse chromosome 11 contains three possible genes influencing methamphetamine sensitivity” in Hollywood, FL. Please click here for a link to his poster.
November 30, 2012: Lisa Goldberg, a second year graduate student in Biomolecular Pharmacology and the Program in Biomedical Neuroscience has joined the Laboratory of Addiction Genetics. Welcome aboard, Lisa!
November 12, 2012: Dr. Bryant’s manuscript, “Bryant et al., in press” was accepted in Addiction Biology.