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The overall goal of my research is centered on elucidating the genetic, epigenetic and molecular mechanisms underlying motivated behaviors that characterize drug addiction. My research team conducts cutting-edge studies to define the pathways and mechanisms regulating the reinforcing and aversive processing of nicotine and cannabis. Our multi-dimensional approach employs innovative techniques, along with well-established molecular and behavioral analyses, to more clearly reveal the specific role of signaling molecules, neurotransmitters and neural circuits involved in drug-induced changes in neuronal function. Based on the increasing incidence of e-cigarette and cannabis use among adolescents, we also investigate the impact of developmental drug exposure (both single substance and co-exposure with cannabinoids and nicotine) on later drug taking, cognitive and affective behaviors in adulthood. Most recently, we have also developed a novel area of investigation to define the role of circulating extracellular vesicles (exosomes) on neural function across the substance use trajectory. Finally, through several collaborations with medicinal chemists in the US and Europe, we conduct pre-clinical testing of novel compounds to derive more efficacious therapeutic treatments to combat drug addiction.