Since my arrival at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in 1998, I have maintained a productive, NIH- supported laboratory focused on elucidating novel synaptic mechanisms underlying alcohol’s behavioral and cognitive effects. Our lab has made a number of contributions, including advances in our understanding of presynaptic mechanisms that contribute to alcohol enhancement of GABAergic transmission, discovering that kainate receptors in the hippocampus and nucleus accumbens are acutely inhibited by alcohol, and identifying a novel inhibitory circuit in the basolateral amygdala that may contribute to alcohol’s acute anxiolytic effects. More recently, I helped establish a Rodent Alcohol Behavior lab that has greatly facilitated new and exciting translational alcohol research initiatives at our institution. To that end, I currently serve as the Director of a P50 Center grant that supports rodent, non-human primate, and human subjects research seeking to identify behavioral and neurobiological substrates underlying vulnerability and resilience to alcohol use disorder.
Another major focus of my professional effort has been directed at mentoring and training the next generation of biomedical researchers. I have played an active role in the administration of the Neuroscience and Integrative Physiology and Pharmacology graduate tracks at our institution and lecture to students in both programs. I have also had the good fortune to supervise dozens of outstanding students and postdoctoral fellows at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and many of these young scientists have gone on to pursue careers in drug and alcohol addiction research. I am also an active member of our institutional NIAAA training grant which has proven to be an outstanding asset to both our students and faculty. The support provided by this grant has allowed us to create a superb translational alcohol research training program that continues to attract the best and the brightest candidates each year. In fact, many of our trainees have gone on to earn individual NRSA awards and two of our recent students were awarded the prestigious Enoch Gordis Research Recognition Award for the best student research presentation at the annual Research Society on Alcoholism meeting.
Weiner Lab: We integrate behavioral and neurobiological approaches to unravel the neural circuitry associated with vulnerability and resilience to alcohol use disorder and comorbid affective disorders, like PTSD.
Educational Program Involvement
Graduate Programs in Neuroscience
Program Research Interest: Addiction and Substance Abuse, Behavioral and Systems Neurobiology, Development and Plasticity, Molecular Neurobiology, Neurological Disease and Aging, Neuropharmacology, Sensory Neurobiology
Integrative Physiology and Pharmacology PhD
Program Research Interest: Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Cardiovascular Physiology and Hypertension, Regenerative Medicine, Neuro- and Behavioral Pharmacology, Cancer Therapeutics Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism Lifespan Physiology.
Highlighted Training Grants
Alcohol Training Grant - Neurophysiological and behavioral investigation of alcohol’s emotional and cognitive effects, juvenile stress interactions with acute and chronic ethanol.