Venetia Zachariou, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair of Pharmacology, Physiology & Biophysics
Our research focuses on signal transduction and epigenetic mechanisms underlying CNS disorders and their treatment. We use advanced genetic mouse models, viral mediated gene transfer and multidisciplinary approaches to understand the network and cell type-specific mechanisms of chronic pain, addiction, stress, and depression. Current projects investigate the mechanism by which signal transduction complexes modulate drug addiction and chronic stress, and the role of signal transduction and epigenetic complexes in the transition to chronic pain states. Another line of research investigates the intracellular pathways in the brain reward center involved affective and sensory components of chronic pain. We aim to understand gene expression adaptations in response to peripheral nerve injury or inflammation throughout the pain matrix, and to develop novel therapeutic avenues for chronic pain conditions.
We focus on five major research areas:
1. Molecular mechanisms of drug addiction in pain-free and chronic pain states
2. Targeting regulators of G protein signaling (RGS proteins) in the brain and heart to prevent maladaptive responses to chronic stress
3. Novel intracellular targets for the treatment of chronic pain
4. Epigenetic mechanisms of chronic pain
5. The role of the brain reward center in sensory and affective neuropathic pain symptoms and treatment efficacy