Gordon Lecture: Chemogenetics and Biobehavioral Imaging Integration Using PET

Dr. Juan Gomez is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in Baltimore, Maryland. At NIDA, Dr. Gomez helped design and set up a new laboratory space integrating PET imaging and behavioral neuroscience modalities. His doctoral research was conducted with Dr. Victoria Luine at Hunter College, where he studied interactions between alcohol exposure and stress in rodents and received his Ph.D. from The Graduate Center of CUNY in 2012. Below is his presentation summary.

Dr. Gomez delivering his lecture

The use of chemogenetic technologies has produced minimally invasive techniques to modulate specific brain structures and/or neural networks in research animals and potentially in humans. Utilizing these methods has provided a boon in behavioral testing that does not involve the hindrance of movement restricting devices. Assisted by PET, Dr. Gomez’s lab has characterized the mechanism of action of existing chemogenetic ligands used for activating virally implanted “designer” receptors. Data gathered from these experiments has led to novel revelations about the mechanism of action of popular chemogenetic technologies and more recently to synthesis of novel chemogenetic actuators and PET ligands with high affinity and efficacy for established chemogenetic receptors. Their goal is to leverage the availability of such minimally-invasive neuromodulation technologies with biobehavioral PET imaging methods to study pertinent behavioral neuroscience questions.