Faculty Profile: Piomelli, Daniele

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Faculty Information Lab Information (Packet Type, Course Title, & Department) Location
Piomelli, Daniele
Lab Contact:
Daniele Piomelli
(949) 824-9179, 7080
Department: Anatomy & Neurobiology

Research Description

The psychoactive effects of _9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the major pharmacological ingredient of Cannabis sativa, are caused by the activation of G protein-coupled membrane receptors called cannabinoid receptors. The expression of these receptors __ abundant in brain structures involved in cognition, emotion and movement __ and the behavioral consequences of their activation __ ranging in man from euphoria to memory deficits __ underscore the potential importance of the endogenous signaling system by which these receptors are thought to be engaged. Yet, the biochemical nature, anatomical distribution and physiological functions of such signaling system remain largely unknown. Understanding the biochemistry and pharmacology of the body's own cannabinoid system is the major long-term objective of the research in our lab. To progress in this direction, we adopted two complementary approaches. On the one hand, we use biochemical and molecular biological techniques to study the mechanisms of formation and inactivation of endocannabinoid substances. On the other hand, we apply this biochemical information to design drugs that interfere with endocannabinoid metabolism. The development of pharmacological agents that prevent formation or inactivation of the endocannabinoids is essential to understand the physiological functions of these signaling molecules. Such drugs may not only prove to be useful experimental tools, but in light of the multiple behavioral effects of cannabinoid receptor activation might also open novel therapeutic avenues for the treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Requirements to Participate

Willingness to learn and excitement about science.

Time Commitment per Week

9-12 hrs/wk

Faculty Means of Evaluation

Quality of work performed and participation.