Genetics of Substance Abuse Laboratory

Institute of Behavioral Genetics

phone: 303-492-1463
fax: 303-492-8063

Research Interests

  • Identification of genes contributing to substance abuse in humans.

  • The effects of exercise on alcohol-related phenotypes in mouse models.


  • Director: Marissa A. Ehringer, Ph.D.
  • Postdoctoral Fellows: Matthew Powers, Ph.D., Kristin Rasmus-Burrow, Ph.D.
  • Graduate Students: Sonya Belimezova.
  • Undergraduate Students: Connor Brown, Kaylee Dykstal.
  • Collaborators: John Hewitt, Michael Stallings, Robin Corley, Scott Vrieze, Matthew Keller, Jerry Stitzel, Charles Hoeffer, Institute for Behavioral Genetics; Christian Hopfer, University of Colorado Medical School.
Connor Brown, Kristin Rasmus-Burrow, Matthew Powers, Kristin Allen, Marissa Ehringer, Aliyah Bolton Connor Brown
Aliyah Bolton Kristin Allen, Kristin Rasmus-Burrow, Matthew Powers

Current Research Projects

  • Translational studies of human neuronal nicotinic receptor genes associated with alcohol and tobacco behaviors.

    • Identification of rare, novel SNPs.

    • In vitro functional characterization of human SNPs.
    • Behavioral testing of knock-in mice.
    • miR-138 studies of mouse behaviors

  • Studies of the effects of voluntary wheel running on alcohol consumption in mice using a genetics approach.

Opportunities for Undergraduates

  • Our lab is currently looking for an undergraduate to assist with ongoing mouse behavioral testing.
  • The requirements for undergraduate students who want a research experience in our laboratory are:

    • A major in Integrative Physiology.
    • Either have completed or be concurrently enrolled in IPHY 2800 Introduction to Statistics.
    • Enroll in Independent Study (IPHY 4860) for 8-10 hours/week for at least one semester.
    • Cumulative GPA of 3.3 or higher.

  • Interested students should complete this application and e-mail it to


Recent Publications


  • 2009-2014, NIH, "Translational Studies of Nicotinic Receptor Genes: Alcohol and Nicotine".