KLAUS KAESTNER, Ph.D., M.S.

Professor of Neuroscience, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania 

Penn Faculty Websites

http://www.med.upenn.edu/kaestnerlab/

Lab Website

http://www.piercelab.org

Contact Information

University of Pennsylvania
Center for Neurobiology and Behavior
Translational Research Laboratory
125 South 31st Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

O: 215-746-8915

rcpierce@mail.med.upenn.edu

Research Interest

Dr. Pierce’s interest in the neuropharmacology of drugs of abuse began while he was an undergraduate student at the University of Kentucky. Working with Dr. Michael Bardo in the Psychology Department, Dr. Pierce studied the effects of amphetamine on the mesolimbic dopamine system. He continued to pursue his interest in the effects of psychostimulants on brain dopamine systems through graduate school at Indiana University, where he worked with Dr. George Rebec. Dr. Pierce received post-doctoral training from Dr. Peter Kalivas at Washington State University. Their work indicated that glutamate, in a complex interaction with limbic dopamine, plays an important role in both the development and long-term expression of behavioral sensitization to cocaine, an animal model of addiction. Dr. Pierce established an independent laboratory in the Department of Pharmacology at Boston University School of Medicine in 1997. Dr. Pierce joined the Department of Psychiatry’s Center for Neurobiology and Behavior in October 2008.

Currently, there are no effective therapies for cocaine addiction, which directly affects over two million people in the United States alone. This reality is the driving force for Dr. Pierce’s research program. The major hurdle for abstaining from abuse of cocaine is intense drug craving, which can be triggered months and even years following the cessation of drug use. The most widely accepted model of craving in animals involves self-administration followed by extinction and the subsequent reinstatement of drug seeking. Using this animal model, Dr. Pierce’s research team pursues a strategy to identify novel neurobiological adaptations produced by cocaine. This information then can be used to formulate potential cocaine addiction therapies.