Welcome to the lab of Dr. Cecilia Flores
At McGill University
Our research team studies cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the development of abnormalities in brain function and in behavior associated with schizophrenia and drug abuse. Our work focuses on the dysfunction of the dopamine system, a brain system important in reward, motor, and cognitive functions. Those suffering from schizophrenia or from substance abuse disorders exhibit altered function of the dopamine system; schizophrenic patients are also prone to substance abuse and drug addicts also have a high incidence of drug-induced psychosis.
Through a multidisciplinary approach we address the idea that the abnormal functioning of the dopamine system in schizophrenia and drug abuse results, in part, from alterations in the ´wiring´ of this system. We are particularly interested in addressing whether proteins that are normally involved in the organization of neuronal connectivity during development, including neurotrophic factors and guidance cues, play a role in the ´miswiring´ of the dopamine system observed in these disorders. We are also interested in studying how fluctuations in the levels of gonadal hormones (e.g. estrogen and testosterone), early in life or in adulthood, induce changes in dopamine function, rendering this system more or less vulnerable to mental disorders.