Office | Davie Hall, CB# 3270
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Gretchen joined the Thiele Laboratory in 2008 after graduating with a B.S. in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. During her time at UNC, she obtained an individual NRSA fellowship under which she performed experiments designed to examine the role of epigenetic changes, particularly histone acetylation, in ethanol-induced locomotor sensitization. Here, she showed that histone acetylation within the shell of the nucleus accumbens shell plays a particularly important role in the acquisition of this behavioral phenomenon; with these experiments, she received her M.A. in Psychology through the Behavioral Neuroscience program in the Spring of 2011.
For her dissertation, Gretchen explored the role of the melanocortin system in modulating binge-like ethanol drinking, using the popular “drinking in the dark” protocol. Here, she showed that not only does binge-like ethanol experience alter key components of the melanocortin system, but that also that manipulation of this system, particularly within the lateral hypothalamus, is sufficient to modulate binge-like ethanol drinking. Further, she showed that the blunting of ethanol consumption following intra-hypothalamic administration of a potent melanocortin agonist requires ERK1/2 signaling.
Gretchen graduated with her PhD in Psychology (Behavioral Neuroscience) in the Spring of 2013. After leaving the Thiele Laboratory, she will take a position as a post-doctoral fellow at Duke University, where she will be characterizing the neural circuit changes that manifest during the acquisition of alcoholism under the guidance of Dr. Kafui Dzirasa.