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  2. Amy W. Lasek

Amy W. Lasek PhD

Amy W. Lasek
Designation
  • Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Anatomy and Cell Biology
Contact Information
  • alasek@uic.edu
  • (312) 355-1593
  • School of Public Health / Psychiatric Institute (SPHPI)
    1601 W. Taylor St.
    SPHPI MC 912
    Chicago IL 60612
  • Room #:466

Dr. Lasek is interested in the molecular and cell biological factors that contribute to alcohol use disorders and drug addiction. She graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a BA in Biology and Biochemistry and received her PhD in Molecular Biology from Cornell University. Prior to joining the Department of Psychiatry at UIC, Dr. Lasek was an Associate Investigator at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center at the University of California, San Francisco, where she cultivated her interests in molecular neuroscience and addiction research.

Dr. Lasek’s research is focused on determining how perturbing signaling pathways and gene expression in the brain alters behaviors related to drug and alcohol addiction.  The laboratory uses molecular genetic techniques in the mouse to answer these questions. Dr. Lasek is also particularly interested in elucidating the neurobiological basis for sex differences in drug abuse. The overall goal of her research is to find novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of addiction. She is funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and is a member of the Center for Alcohol Research in Epigenetics in the Department of Psychiatry.

  • psychiatry

    Molecular neurobiology of alcohol and drug addiction, effects of estrogen on reward and addiction-related behaviors.

    1. Vandegrift, B.J., You, C., Satta, R., Brodie, M.S., & Lasek, A.W. (2017) Estradiol increases the sensitivity of ventral tegmental area dopamine neurons to dopamine and ethanol. PLOS ONE, 12(11):e0187698. PMCID: PMC5673180.
    2. Chen, H., He, D., & Lasek, A.W. (2017) Midkine in the mouse ventral tegmental area limits ethanol intake and Ccl2 gene expression. Genes Brain Behav.,16(7):699-708. PMCID: PMC5595638.
    3. Dutton, J.W., Chen, H., You, C., Brodie, M.S. & Lasek, A.W. (2017) Anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) regulates binge-like drinking and dopamine receptor sensitivity in the ventral tegmental area. Addiction Biol., 22(3):665-678. PMCID: PMC4940304.
    4. Chen, H., He, D., & Lasek, A.W. (2015) Repeated Binge Drinking Increases Perineuronal Nets in the Insular Cortex. Alcohol. Clin. Exp. Res., 39(10):1930-8. PMCID: PMC4592458.
    5. He, D., Chen, H., Muramatsu, H., & Lasek, A.W. (2015) Ethanol activates midkine and anaplastic lymphoma kinase signaling in neuroblastoma cells and in the brain. J. Neurochem., 135(3):508-21. PMCID: PMC4618084.
    6. Savarese, A., Zou, M.E., Kharazia, V., Maiya, R, & Lasek, A.W. (2014) Increased behavioral responses to ethanol in Lmo3 knockout mice. Genes Brain Behav. 3(8):777-83.PMCID: PMC4442799.
Title Description Investigator(s) Category Status
ALK and Midkine as Novel Neuroimmune Regulators of Alcohol Consumption The Lasek lab participates in the Integrative Neuroscience Initiative on Alcoholism (INIA)-Neuroimmune consortium funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). We are examining brain immune signaling mediated by anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) and midkine (MDK) and will determine where in the brain these proteins function to regulate excessive ethanol consumption. The Lasek Lab On-going
Compulsive Alcohol Drinking and Cortical Extracellular Matrix Specialized extracellular matrix structures in the brain, known as perineuronal nets, are important for neuronal activity and learning and memory. We found that perineuronal nets are increased in intensity in the insula, a cortical region that regulates compulsive alcohol drinking, after chronic alcohol use. The Lasek Lab On-going
Epigenetic Mechanisms of Glia and Neuron Interactions in Alcoholism As part of the NIAAA-funded Center for Alcohol Research in Epigenetics, this research component will evaluate epigenetic modifications, such as histone acetylation, methylation, and DNA methylation, due to ethanol exposure in astrocytes that may be involved in ethanol-induced hippocampal neural plasticity and depression-like symptoms during withdrawal after chronic ethanol exposure. The Lasek Lab On-going
Epigenetic mechanisms of glia and neuron interactions in alcoholism This research component will evaluate epigenetic modifications, such as histone acetylation, methylation, and DNA methylation, due to ethanol exposure in astrocytes that may be involved in ethanol-induced hippocampal neural plasticity and depression-like symptoms during withdrawal after chronic ethanol exposure. Alcohol Research Center On-going
Molecular Mechanisms of Estrogen Action in Promoting Binge Drinking Binge drinking is a form of alcohol abuse that leads to serious adverse health outcomes for women. The ovarian hormone estrogen promotes binge drinking in females. We are examining the molecular and cellular function of estrogen receptors in the ventral tegmental area, a brain region involved in drug reward, in stimulating binge drinking and alcohol reward in mice. The Lasek Lab On-going