I'm a Ph.D. candidate in Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania, and I'm trying to map out the specific neurons & connections between them that are responsible for causing addiction and problematic anxiety.
Studies show a strong link between high levels of anxiety and addiction, and given the absence of any highly effective treatment for either condition, my efforts are to understand what specific parts of the brain should be targeted to selectively and effectively cure these conditions.
As innovations in pursuit of better treatments will involve both public and private sector engagement, I'm on the boards of the Penn Science Policy Group and Penn Biotech Group to better learn how these relationships might be improved.
A major goal of mine is to bring the research, that people outside of science support with their taxes, closer to them. Right now, for someone outside of academia to read the publications that my work - which they've funded through their taxes - generates, they will need to pay a premium for access. We call this additional cost the 'paywall' - and, in addition to my research goals, I hope to do what I can to help communicate those discoveries to folks who don't have the necessary subscriptions.
I regularly have informal chats on Periscope (@_Anthropoid), where we talk about everything from Alzheimer's & ADHD to how drugs work & why we have dreams - and I demonstrate techniques like fluorescence microscopy. I also have recorded conversations with a fellow scientist about specific topics on our podcast, Wired to be Weird.
Prefer using bitcoin for your online transactions? I'm happy to accept any contributions!
McLaughlin I, Dani JA, De Biasi M. The medial habenula and interpeduncular nucleus circuitry is critical in addiction, anxiety, and mood regulation. J Neurochem. 2017 Aug;142 Suppl 2:130-143. doi: 10.1111/jnc.14008. Review. PubMed PMID: 28791703.
De Biasi M, McLaughlin I, Perez EE, Crooks PA, Dwoskin LP, Bardo MT, Pentel PR, Hatsukami D. Scientific overview: 2013 BBC plenary symposium on tobacco addiction. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2014 Aug 1;141:107-17. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2014.05.013. Epub 2014 Jun 2. Erratum in: Drug Alcohol Depend. 2014 Nov 1;144:290. PubMed PMID: 24934691
De Biasi, M., McLaughlin, I., Klima, M. Nicotine and Neurokinin Signaling. In: The Neuropathology of Drug Addictions And Substance Misuse. Volume #1: Tobacco, Alcohol, Cannabinoids and Opioids. Chapter 18, Pages 189-200 IVictor Preedy editor, from Elsevier, 2016 ISBN: 9780128002131