Neurogenetic Substrates of Cocaine Addiction

Self-administration involves training a rat to respond for intravenous drugs like cocaine.

Self-administration involves training a rat to respond for intravenous drugs like cocaine.

Seeking students to join research utilizing behavioral, genetic, and vivo neurophysiological techniques to study neural connections with reward-related brain areas associated with drug-taking behavior.

Project description

Drug use and addiction have enormous impact on our society. About 9% of the adult US population has used illicit drugs in the past month; lifetime use of illicit drugs is 47%; the majority of which included illicit drugs besides marijuana. In the case of alcohol and nicotine, 18% of Americans have abused alcohol, and as many of 80% of these people are regular smokers. Despite this, what is striking is that while many individuals are exposed to addictive drugs in their lifetimes, only a small percentage develop the patterns of drug-taking associated with addiction. These individuals are likely to be predisposed to addiction for distinct reasons, and determining what these predispositions are is a major goal of our laboratory. We are currently focused on how the response to drug-associated stimuli ("cues") drives motivated behavior and results in drug-taking behavior, and how genetic and environmental factors interact to influence the magnitude of these differences. To this end, our laboratory specializes in behavioral, genetic, and in vivo neurophysiological techniques to study neural connections within reward-related brain areas.

Project outcome

The specific outcomes of this project will be identified by the faculty mentor at the beginning of your collaboration. 

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment Year-long
Start time Fall
In-person, remote, or hybrid? In-person
Level of collaboration Small group project
Benefits Academic Credit, Salary/Stipend, Voluntary Experience, Work Experience
Who is eligible Experience working with animals is required

Project mentor

Paul Meyer

Associate Professor


B71 Park Hall, North Campus

Phone: (716) 645-0263


Start the project

  1. Email the project mentor using the contact information above to express your interest and get approval to work on the project. (Here are helpful tips on how to contact a project mentor.)
  2. After you receive approval from the mentor to start this project, click the button to start the digital badge. (Learn more about ELN's digital badge options.) 

Preparation activities

Once you begin the digital badge series, you will have access to all the necessary activities and instructions. Your mentor has indicated they would like you to also complete the specific preparation activities below. Please reference this when you get to Step 2 of the Preparation Phase. 

  • attending workshops or orientations (i.e., lab safety)
  • handling animals (rats)  
  • processing data 
  • attending lab meetings, participation in journal clubs 
  • assisting with experimental preparation 
  • assisting with surgical procedures