Dr. Ehringer is an Associate Professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology and a Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Behavioral Genetics. There are two main areas of ongoing research in her lab. The first area focuses on the identification of genes involved in substance use and abuse, using human molecular and statistical genetics. Recent studies from Dr. Ehringer's group and others has provided strong evidence that genes coding for neuronal nicotinic acetycholine receptors (CHRN genes) are associated with smoking, alcohol, and other drug-related behaviors. Ongoing work is aimed at further characterizing these genes and studying the molecular mechanisms which underlie risk. The second area of research is focused on identifying neuronal pathways that are common to alcohol behaviors and exercise. Using a mouse model, her lab has shown that access to a running wheel leads to decreased voluntary intake of alcohol. Current projects are focused on identifying genes that may be activated by both behaviors, and how these genes interact.
XT. Darlington, R. McCarthy, R. Cox, J. Miyamoto-Ditmon, X. Gallego, M.A. Ehringer.
(2016) Voluntary wheel running reduces voluntary consumption of ethanol in mice:
identification of candidate genes through striatal gene expression profiling. Genes, Brain,
and Behavior, 15(5):474-90.
H.M. Kamens, R.P. Corley, P.A. Richmond, T.M. Darlington, R. Dowell, C.J. Hopfer, M.C.
Stallings, J.K. Hewitt, S.A. Brown, M.A. Ehringer (2016) Evidence for association between
low frequency variants in CHRNA6/CHRNB3 and antisocial drug dependence. Behavior
Genetics, In press.
H.M. Kamens, J. Miyamoto, M.S. Powers, K. Ro, M. Soto, R. Cox, J.A. Stitzel, M.A.
Ehringer. (2015) The ß3 subunit of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor: modulation of gene
expression and nicotine consumption. Neuropharmacology, 99:639-49.
X. Gallego, R.J. Cox, E. Funk, R.A. Foster, M.A. Ehringer. (2015) Voluntary exercise
decreases ethanol preference and consumption in C57BL/6J adolescent mice: Sex
differences and hippocampal BDNF expression. Physiology and Behavior. 138:28-36.