This application is a request for continuation of a K05 Senior Scientist Research and Mentorship Award for Dr. Kathryn A. Cunningham who is the Chauncey Leake Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology and Director of the Center for Addiction Research at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. My research goals for this K05 build from the compelling discovery that the serotonin (5-HT) 5-HT2A receptor (5-HT2AR) and 5-HT2CR play an excitatory and inhibitory role, respectively, in the control of behaviors assessed in animal models of stimulant addiction. We postulate that selective blockade of 5-HT2AR signaling, enhancement of 5-HT2CR signaling, or their combination would be therapeutically useful in stimulant addiction, however, there are no such ligands currently in clinical use. Appreciating that a greater comprehension of 5-HT2R neurobiology is necessary for us to make significant strides toward the development of 5-HT2R-based pharmacotherapeutic interventions for psychostimulant addiction, I will employ future K05 release time to learn the fundamentals of drug design, molecular modeling and structural biology, and apply my learning to the exploration of 5-HT2R protein complexes, modeling of protein pockets and interfaces, and the design of novel ligands for 5-HT2R signalosomes. Seven collaborators have agreed to provide their guidance in these chemical and biological perspectives. The central hypothesis of the K05 Research Plan is that selective disrupters of the interface between the 5-HT2CR and PTEN (protein phosphates and tensin homologue deleted on chromosome 10) will augment 5-HT2CR signaling and provide therapeutic efficacy to 'protect'against relapse. This recently-funded project integrates an expanded collaborative group to craft peptides or small molecules that inhibit the 5-HT2CR:PTEN association as a innovative pharmacological means to enhance 5-HT2CR function with an acceptable side effect profile. My mentoring goals are to actualize individualized and structured guidance for pre/postdoctoral fellows in my laboratory, and five junior faculty in the Center and to assure their lifelong commitment to addiction science and the search for effective diagnostics and therapeutics. My leadership goals are to build bridges among regional institutions to facilitate drug discovery and translational addiction science and to enrich mentoring across disciplinary boundaries. The perspectives, new chemical entities and fresh template to target protein: protein interactions will drive new concepts and directions in addiction and relapse therapeutics, and stimulate the environment to promote new conceptual thought in mentee career development. In addition, I will actualize my mentoring goals to improve the integration of chemical design, modeling and structural biology into the laboratory, particularly with our group's ability to understand this key literature and connect 5-HT2R protein structure with its functions in cellular and mammalian biological systems.

Public Health Relevance

There is a fundamental gap in addiction treatment options, namely, the need for medications that effectively suppress relapse to stimulant dependence with a limited side effect profile. The present grant would provide the opportunity for the candidate to focus on research, mentoring and leadership goals with the ultimate intent to develop novel chemical probes with promise as new diagnostic and therapeutic modalities to combat stimulant abuse and addiction.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Research Scientist Award (K05)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Human Development Research Subcommittee (NIDA)
Program Officer
Rapaka, Rao
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Texas Medical Br Galveston
Other Domestic Higher Education
United States
Zip Code
Swinford-Jackson, S E; Anastasio, N C; Fox, R G et al. (2016) Incubation of cocaine cue reactivity associates with neuroadaptations in the cortical serotonin (5-HT) 5-HT2C receptor (5-HT2CR) system. Neuroscience 324:50-61
Howell, Leonard L; Cunningham, Kathryn A (2015) Serotonin 5-HT2 receptor interactions with dopamine function: implications for therapeutics in cocaine use disorder. Pharmacol Rev 67:176-97
De La Garza 2nd, Richard; Bubar, Marcy J; Carbone, Crystal L et al. (2015) Evaluation of the dopamine β-hydroxylase (DβH) inhibitor nepicastat in participants who meet criteria for cocaine use disorder. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 59:40-8
Ma, Liangsuo; Steinberg, Joel L; Cunningham, Kathryn A et al. (2015) Inhibitory behavioral control: A stochastic dynamic causal modeling study comparing cocaine dependent subjects and controls. Neuroimage Clin 7:837-47
Anastasio, Noelle C; Stutz, Sonja J; Fink, Latham H L et al. (2015) Serotonin (5-HT) 5-HT2A Receptor (5-HT2AR):5-HT2CR Imbalance in Medial Prefrontal Cortex Associates with Motor Impulsivity. ACS Chem Neurosci 6:1248-58
Liu, Shijing; Maili, Lorena; Lane, Scott D et al. (2015) Serotonin transporter gene promoter polymorphism predicts relationship between years of cocaine use and impulsivity. Psychiatr Genet 25:213-4
Ma, Liangsuo; Steinberg, Joel L; Cunningham, Kathryn A et al. (2015) Inhibitory behavioral control: a stochastic dynamic causal modeling study using network discovery analysis. Brain Connect 5:177-86
Fink, Latham H L; Anastasio, Noelle C; Fox, Robert G et al. (2015) Individual Differences in Impulsive Action Reflect Variation in the Cortical Serotonin 5-HT2A Receptor System. Neuropsychopharmacology 40:1957-68
Martin, Cédric Bp; Martin, Vincent S; Trigo, José M et al. (2014) 5-HT2C receptor desensitization moderates anxiety in 5-HTT deficient mice: from behavioral to cellular evidence. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol 18:
Wild, Christopher; Cunningham, Kathryn A; Zhou, Jia (2014) Allosteric Modulation of G Protein-Coupled Receptors: An Emerging Approach of Drug Discovery. Austin J Pharmacol Ther 2:

Showing the most recent 10 out of 45 publications