Jun 8, 2010    #066
Contact: John Austin

School of Medicine researchers explore molecular mechanisms of drug addiction

John Wang receives $1.8 million NIH grant for innovative neuroscience research

Researchers at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Medicine have been awarded a grant of more than $1.8 million for their research into the brain mechanisms responsible for drug abuse and addiction and other mental illnesses such as depression. The grant will support a lab led by John Wang, M.D., Ph.D., who is the Westport Anesthesia/Missouri Endowed Chair and professor of Basic Medical Science at the UMKC School of Medicine.

The newly funded grant will allow Wang and his team to continue this innovative research and to search for new interacting partners of glutamate receptors. Their recent findings have been published in Nature Neuroscience, Neuron, EMBO Journal, and Journal of Neuroscience.

Wang's current research focuses on the molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of glutamate receptors, which have been implicated in previous studies as playing a key role in the pathologies of various neurodegenerative diseases. His research team has recently identified a novel protein-protein interaction between an enzyme and a receptor in brain cells. This previously unrecognized protein-protein interaction model is critical for controlling cellular and behavioral activity.

"Neurodegenerative conditions, such as drug addiction and depression, represent major medical and social problems across the globe," Wang said. "We believe this research will ultimately contribute to the development of novel pharmacotherapies -- by targeting glutamate receptors -- for the treatment of various psychiatric disorders."

About the UMKC School of Medicine

The UMKC School of Medicine was founded in 1971 as an innovative combined degree program. From its baccalaureate/MD curriculum to a docent system that emphasizes small group learning, the school has remained a trendsetter in medical education and research.

About the University of Missouri-Kansas City

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience.

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