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Animal Core for Addiction Related Behaviors

Ellen M. Unterwald, Core Director (
Lynn Kirby, Co-Investigator; Head of the Animal Breeding Laboratory
Sara Jane Ward, Co-Investigator; Head of the Drug Self-administration Laboratory

The Animal Core for Addiction Related Behaviors provides the expertise, personnel, equipment and resources that are necessary to perform in vivo tests to assess drug reinforcement, reward, reinstatement/relapse, and related endpoints of cognition and emotional function in rats and mice. This Core also supports the breeding of mutant mice and rats that are models important for the research of members of the Temple P30 Center and the substance abuse research community at large. The overall goal of the Animal Core for Addiction Related Behaviors is to enhance research on drugs of abuse, addiction, pain and the intersection of drugs of abuse with HIV/AIDS by employing state-of-the-art animal models and analyzing behavioral endpoints.

The Core Director, Dr. Unterwald, and Co-Investigators, Drs. Lynn Kirby and Sara Ward, have extensive experience with all of the techniques supported by the Animal Core for Addiction Related Behaviors. They collaborate with investigators to design studies, collect data and develop new rodent models as research questions arise. These collaborations can be through generation of data by Core personnel or by providing the training and equipment needed for collaborating investigators to perform the experiments themselves. The Core provides the knowledge, skills and equipment necessary to enhance research programs and to promote extension of funded projects into behavioral endpoints and animal models relevant to addiction.

The following procedures are among those that are supported by the Animal Core for Addiction Related Behaviors:                                                                                                                     

  • Intravenous and oral drug and ethanol self-administration
  • Behavioral economic analysis of drug self-administration
  • Operant responding for sucrose or food
  • Conditioned place preference and aversion
  • Intracranial self-stimulation/brain stimulation reward
  • Sucrose or saccharin preference as a measure of anhedonia
  • Ultrasonic vocalizations as a measure of positive and negative affect
  • Anxiety-like behaviors
  • Depression-like behaviors
  • Cognitive tests
  • Stress models
  • Behavioral activity, including locomotion, stereotypy and sensitization
  • Breeding of genetically modified mice and rats
  • Support of humanized mouse model of HIV-1/AIDS