Michael J. Kuhar, Ph.D. (Emeritus)
Research is an essential part of an overall health plan for the future. Dr. Kuhar believes a balance of research and treatment is needed for optimal cost/benefit ratios in the long run. His interests lie in:
- The brain in health and disease
- Medications for drug addiction and obesity
- Novel genes related to drug action
Research in Dr. Kuhar's lab is directed at understanding and developing treatments for mental disorders such as drug addiction, and the approach is interdisciplinary. Opportunities at the present are perhaps greater than ever before. The human genome project provides a fertile area for new understandings and development, and there are many new techniques that can improve health care.
Dr. Kuhar's project on medications for cocaine abusers has gone well. The preclinical studies are mainly completed with a strong positive outcome. The National Institute on Drug Abuse is including our compounds in its treatment development program.
His lab is studying a new brain chemical called CART peptide. It is involved in controlling many important processes such as feeding, drug craving, stress, sensory processing and perhaps neuronal development. Because of this, CART receptors and systems are marvelously opportune targets for new drug development that could be used to treat drug addiction and obesity, for example.
He has also studied the sites of action of antidepressant drugs, the neurotransmitter transporters. Methods to measure the synthesis and degradation rates of transporters in a quantitative fashion have been developed. These methods will be used to develop a better understanding of how antidepressant drugs work and could point the way to new strategies for antidepressant drug development.
Straight from the Scholar
Among my many opportunities, I chose Georgia for several reasons. One is that the overall package of support for my research was substantial and provided the opportunity to establish a first rate research lab. Emory University is one of the best universities with the best faculties, ensuring good colleagues and facilities. Finally, Atlanta is a great place to live where my family has been productive and happy.