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My background is in Neurobiology and Biochemistry, with specific focus in molecular mediated effects on voltage-gated channels within the CNS. My training includes opioid modulation of calcium channels and alcohol mediated persistent changes in BK channel activity and expression. The underlying theme of both my past and present research is to understand the core principles of neuronal plasticity as they apply to drug addiction interconnecting the molecular, cellular, and behavioral levels.


2015 -Present

    Currently she has been very successful at establishing primary cultures from both mice and rat, hippocampus and striatal tissue. These cultures have been useful for most experiments carried out in the laboratory including; Western blots, electrophysiology and sucrose density gradients. Her individual project involves the characterization of changes in distribution and expression of BK, ß-catenin and the dopamine receptor1 (D1) in medium spiny neurons in response to EtOH using both fixed and live-cell imaging.

Ernesto Hernández

Undergraduate Chemistry Student

UPRRP working as part of a collaboration with Dr. Samuel Martínez and Dr. José Peñalbert.

Roberto Aponte Meléndez

Undergraduate student currently a member of the NeuroID program. Awarded Summer Intership at Icahn School of Medice at Mount Sinai.

2015 - Present

    His project involves quantifying alcohol consumption using the drinking in the dark (DID) behavioral paradigm.These experiments have shown that, exposure of EtOH modeling 6hr duration and concentration of EtOH, illicit subsequent increased voluntary alcohol consumption. Preliminary studies using the two-bottle choice assay further suggest the development of molecular alcohol tolerance may also lead to escalation in consumption over longer periods of DID.

During the summer of 2016 he was selected to participate in a summer internship in Dr. Eric Nestler’ lab at Mount Sinai Hospital in NY. There he had the opportunity to test this paradigm on transgenic conditional b-catenin knockout mice as part of a budding collaboration between our labs. These experiments have allowed us the unique opportunity to explore the link between the known molecular mechanism for alcohol tolerance and subsequent facilitated consumption.

Alexandra Burgos Rosado "Sandy"

Undergraduate during her tenure. Has recently graduated and been accepted to the prestigious Cytotoxicology postbac at the UPR Medical Sciences campus.

2014 - 2016

    Her project has evolved into a careful characterization of the synthesis and accumulation of ß-catenin and the secretion of Wnt in response to alcohol exposure. This is being tested in both HEK 293 cells heterologously expressing BK channels and neuronal mammalian tissue; both hippocampus and striatal in-vivo exposed to EtOH. She has further carried out key experiments establishing a link between ß-catenin expression and miRNA regulation of alcohol tolerance as part of her ongoing projects.

Katherine Cordero Padilla

Undergraduate student who recently joined our lab. She will be presenting at the annual Society for Neuroscience Meeting in San Diego, CA.

2016 - Present

    Her project explores the role of Wnt secretion in response to EtOH both in secretion and transcription regulation.


Jessica Soto (Lab Manager/Technician)
Graduate Engineer student

2016 - Present

    This project involves Electrochemistry, Material Sciences and Physics; the importance of Interdisciplinary Sciences is that the whole structure of the subject matter is composed of various types of discipline in science. This prepares an undergraduate student with vast knowledge of different discipline in science acting as one for the studied purpose and for future graduate research. Currently we are designing a platform for in-vivo real-time measurement of Wnt secretion using primary cultured neurons.

Héctor Marrero Hernández, Ph.D.

Electrophysiology Specialist of the COBRE Neuroimaging and Electrophysiology Facility (NIEF)

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