Current Research

 

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Research Interests

Our research program focuses on four general areas: 

1) Understanding the physiological function of the endocannabinoid system.  Through the use of genetic knockout mice, we have been able to explore the role of specific cannabinoid receptors and ligands, as they contribute to endocannabinoid tone, which dynamically mediates a host of physiological systems, including the immune system, cognition, and the stress response.

2) Elucidating the mechanisms of action underlying the pharmacological effects of THC and other cannabinoids.  Although cannabinoids have been used for thousands of years for their medicinal qualities, their mechanisms of action have only recently become actively researched.  With the aid of modern techniques, including genetic deletion

3) Investigating medicinal uses of cannabinoids.  Current projects include characterizing novel CB1 and CB2 agonist and antagonist compounds, for use as anti-inflammatory agents and reversing cognitive deficits.  Our lab is using models of LPS-induced inflammation as well as models of arthritis and chronic nerve injury to assess the effects of cannabinoid drugs as well as the role of endocannabinoid tone in new pain treatments.  

4) Determining the impact of the drugs of abuse via the inhalation route of administration.  Route of administration can greatly change the affects of a given drug.  For many reasons, such as ease of use, investigators predominantly inject drugs in solution.  However, many drugs of abuse, including cannabis, heroin, and cocaine, are typically smoked and inhaled by users.  In order to establish stronger animal models of drug abuse and administration, we are investigating inhalation as a route of administration.  

Much of this research employs a multidisciplinary approach using a combination of behavioral/physiological measures, pharmacological agents, genetically altered mice, and quantification of drug as well as endogenous compounds in body and brain. 

Getting Involved

Students interested in working in the Lichtman lab encouraged to contact Dr. Lichtman via email.  

Students interested in applying for graduate training in VCU's department of  Pharmacology & Toxicology should contact Dr. Stephen Sawyer, the graduate program director.  More information on applying for graduate study at VCU can be found here.

 



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