Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Molecular Physiology & Biophysics
724B Robinson Research Building
Sachin Patel’s overall research goal is to understand the role of neuronal cannabinoid signaling in brain function relevant to psychiatric disorders. His lab has recently focused specifically on the role of the cannabinoid system in the regulation of stress response physiology, and the subsequent development of anxiety and depressive phenotypes relevant to affective disorders. They are using animal models to examine the effects of adolescent stress exposure on the cannabinoid system, and cannabinoid-mediated synaptic plasticity in the amygdala, a key brain region implicated in affective disorders and developmental disorders, including autism. His lab is also interested in the role of cannabinoid signaling in modulating behavioral and synaptic alterations induced by very early life stress. Given that stress, especially early life stress, is associated with significantly higher rates of psychiatric disorders, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, understanding the cellular and molecular adaptations induced by stress exposure could provide opportunities for the development of novel therapeutic interventions for stress-related psychiatric disorders in children and adults.
Another major focus of Patel’s research is aimed at understanding the fundamental mechanisms of cannabinoid-mediated synaptic plasticity in the amygdala, and how these forms of plasticity change during development. Understanding how the cannabinoid system modulates synaptic efficacy within emotional centers of the brain could provide mechanistic insight into developmental alterations induced by cannabis use during adolescence, which has been shown to be a risk factor for the development of psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia. His lab is interested in understanding the mechanisms by which cannabis exposure early in life leads to an increased risk for the development of psychiatric disorders during adulthood.