As one of the newest members of the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Dr. Eric Vallender's research plays a key role in linking the functional genetics of species of interest to various behavioral phenotypes in comparative genetic studies. This type of research helps reveal the roles of specific genes in human addictions and psychological illnesses. The lab also uses similar relationships that genes have among other species in order to highlight new and interesting areas of genetic and molecular research. By collaborating with other scientists inside and outside of UMMC, the lab provides valuable insights to other bioinformatic studies as well.

Current Projects

  • Comparative evolutionary studies of orthologs across GPCRs & addiction related genes (KARG)
  • Biased signaling studies of DRD4 and Mu-Opioid receptor polymorphisms on GPCRs
  • Microbiome analysis to determine potential substance abuse relationships
  • Studying mRNA expression in various tissue types of genes implicated in psychiatric disorders and genotyping specimens to determine how/if genotypes relate to phenotypes
  • Development of improved animal models and usage of animals in biomedicine

Recent Publications

  • Mahajan GJ, Vallender EJ, Garrett MR, et al. Altered neuro-inflammatory gene expression in hippocampus in major depressive disorder. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2018;82:177-186. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2018.09.032
  • Vallender EJ, Goswami DB, Shinday NM, Westmoreland SV, Yao WD, Rowlett JK. Transcriptomic profiling of the ventral tegmental area and nucleus accumbens in rhesus macaques following long-term cocaine self-administration. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2017;175:9-23. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.01.030
  • Goswami DB, Ogawa LM, Ward JM, Miller GM, Vallender EJ. Large-scale polymorphism discovery in macaque G-protein coupled receptors. BMC Genomics 2013; 14(1):703. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2164-14-703