Introduction to the Laboratory


Drs. Maier and Watkins have merged their laboratories into a single multi-disciplinary site that uses techniques ranging over the full spectrum, from molecular to behavioral, to investigate a set of inter-related problems in the neurosciences. The laboratory is administered as a collaborative effort, with all graduate students and postdoctoral fellows being jointly supervised by Drs. Maier and Watkins. Furthermore, the multi-disciplinary nature of many of the projects encourages collaboration between students in the laboratory, as well as collaboration with other laboratories. Thus, many of the investigations are group efforts that combine a range of expertise in different subdisciplines. The current postdoctoral fellows in the laboratory received their PhDs in Anatomy, Immunology, Neuroscience, Pharmacology, Physiology & Biophysics, and Psychology, highlighting the breadth of work in the laboratory and the diversity of approaches and techniques that are available.

General Theme

The focus of the laboratory is to understand how organisms adapt to challenge. Challenge is conceived broadly, and can be environmental (e.g., a stressor), immunological (e.g., an infectious agent), pharmacological (e.g., a drug of abuse), or sensory (e.g., pain). For more detailed description of ongoing projects go to the Projects page.

The laboratory consists of approximately 4,000 square feet of modern research space. Major components and facilities include:

  • Small animal surgery with multiple stations, perfusion sites, etc.
  • Fully outfitted wet lab with pH meters, centrifuges, fume hood, laminar flow hood, microscopes, Coulter Cell Counter, ELISA Plate Reader, water baths, thermal cyclers for RT-PCR, gel boxes, cell sonicators, etc.
  • Full facilities for in vivo microdialysis and high performance liquid chromatography for measurement of biogenic amines and amino acids
  • Multiplex protein analyses
  • Stereology
  • Full facilities for immunohistochemistry including precision cryostat and vibratome
  • Full facilities for anatomical tracing studies including fluorescence microscopy and computerized image analysis
  • Behavioral test equipment including aversively motivated learning, appetitively motivated learning, anxiety testing, conditioned place preference testing, activity monitoring, somatosensory testing
  • Telemetry of physiological measures such as core body temperature

  • Optogenetics
  • DREADD manipulations
  • Intersectional genetic approaches
  • Immunohistochemistry, multiple label light and fluorescence 
  • Confocal microscopy and stereology
  • Tract tracing, anterograde and retrograde
  • In situ hybridization
  • RT-PCR
  • Multiplex protein analyses
  • Transient transfections
  • Immune and glial cell cultures
  • Northern blot
  • Western blot
  • Molecular methods for gene therapy
  • In vivo microdialysis
  • High performance liquid chromatography
  • Flow cytometry
  • Antibody measurement
  • Cellular proliferation
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • Small animal surgery
  • Brain microinjection
  • Brain Lesion
  • Behavioral testing—learning, anxiety, depression models, drug-induced conditioned place preference, psychomotor responses to drugs, somatosensory testing