Balapal Lab

Basavaraj Balapal, Ph.D.

Head of Lab

Subbanna Shivakumar, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Research Scientist

The central focus of Dr. Raj Balapalís laboratory is to understand the function of endocannabinoid systems and epigenetics in synaptic plasticity and learning and memory disorders. While the main focus of the lab is on fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), our studies span many different drug (marijuana and synthetic cannabinoids or Spice) induced synaptic disorders.

Overview

 

Research in the Balapal lab is focused on the function of lipid-derived messengers, with particular emphasis on the endogenous cannabinoids anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol. Current research efforts converge on three areas: endocannabinoids signaling; physiological roles of the endogenous cannabinoid system during early brain development; understanding the role of endogenous cannabinoid system in synaptic plasticity and learning and memory disorders.

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Current Research

Dr. Balapalís current investigation is focused on the function of endocannabinoids such as anandamide and its CB1 receptor mediated signaling in the development of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). FASD is one of the major causes of intellectual disability in western nations. The goal is to explore how early ethanol exposure induces persistent expression of CB1R to adulthood and to examine epigenetic modifications at the CB1R promoter in brain structures. The lab also explores how persistent expression of CB1R disrupts development of the synaptic circuit events. Furthermore, the research group evaluates how early ethanol induced neurobehavioral deficits can be attributed to persistent CB1R activity.

Recent Publications

 

Epigenetic abnormalities due to developmental ethanol exposure:

Signaling defects due to alcohol exposure during development: