Carrie R. Ferrario, PhD
Ph.D. University of Michigan
B. A. Indiana University
I first became involved in neuroscience research as a sophomore through the Minority Education & Development Initiative for Careers in Biomedicine (MEDIC-B) program at Indiana University. The MEDIC-B program provided resources that allowed me to work in research labs at my home institution throughout the school year and at other Universities during the summer. I was very fortunate to have a number of excellent mentors during this time including Profs. Joseph Steinmetz, Gabrielle Britton, and Dale Sengelaub who encouraged me to apply to graduate school and who took the time to make sure that I was well prepared for the road ahead. I have always loved the combination of scholarship, discovery, and education that the academic setting provides. This resolve was only strengthened through my graduate and post-graduate training with Profs. Terry Robinson, Marina Wolf, and Peggy Gnegy. Their example and continued mentorship has given me a firm foundation on which I have begun to build my own research program. My lab’s primary focus is on examining obesity-related changes in striatal function and motivated behaviors such as food-seeking and eating as well as similarities and differences between alterations in motivation driving obesity and addiction. It is my hope that through this work my research group will make significant contributions to the understanding of neural mechanisms contributing to obesity and drug addiction, and that through this process I will also make contributions to the development of the next generation of outstanding scientists.
Research in my lab focuses on understanding the neurobiological mechanisms underlying over-consumption of food and addictive drugs. Current areas studies include examining pre-existing and obesity-related alterations in striatal function and motivated behaviors. In particular, we are interested in how enhanced responsivity to stimuli in the environment that predict food availability differentially affect food-seeking and eating behavior in obesity, how dysregulation of insulin may alter striatal function and influence emotional states (e.g., anxiety and depression), and how interactions between predisposition and experience shape behavior and neural function. We use a variety of approaches including: behavioral pharmacology, biochemistry, and slice electrophysiology to examine changes in neural function and behavior after junk-food diet or drug exposure.