Faculty Profile: Karla Kaun, PhD

Karla Kaun
Karla Kaun, PhD
Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
Bio Med Neuroscience
Work: +1 401-863-5825
My lab uses the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster to investigate the neural substrates of drug reward at the molecular and cellular level by mapping areas in the fly brain that regulate alcohol reward, and uncovering genes and pathways never-before implicated in memory of alcohol reward.

Biography

The goal of my research program is to understand the molecular and neural mechanisms underlying drug addiction. I use the powerful molecular and genetic tools available in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, to investigate the neural substrates of drug reward at the molecular and cellular level. A compact genome, tiny brain, and impressive toolbox of sophisticated neurogenetic tools make the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, a prime model to understand the neural substrate of behavior. Drosophila show remarkably long-lasting memories for a cue associated with an intoxicating dose of alcohol. In my lab, we investigate the neural circuitry and associated molecular mechanisms within the fly brain that regulate this memory. This interdisciplinary approach, which combines behavioural neuroscience, genetics, neuropharmacology and molecular biology, has the potential to contribute novel mechanisms that regulate memories associated with drug experience.

Research Description

The goal of my research program is to understand the molecular and neural mechanisms underlying drug addiction. I use the powerful molecular and genetic tools available in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, to investigate the neural substrates of drug reward at the molecular and cellular level. A compact genome, tiny brain, and impressive toolbox of sophisticated neurogenetic tools make the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, a prime model to understand the neural substrate of behavior. Drosophila show remarkably long-lasting memories for a cue associated with an intoxicating dose of alcohol. In my lab, we investigate the neural circuitry and associated molecular mechanisms within the fly brain that regulate this memory. This interdisciplinary approach, which combines behavioural neuroscience, genetics, neuropharmacology and molecular biology, has the potential to contribute novel mechanisms that regulate memories associated with drug experience.

Selected Publications

  • Azanchi, R‡, Kaun, K.R.‡, Heberlein, U. (2013) Competing dopaminergic responses determine behavioral choice in Drosophila. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 110: 21153-8. ‡ These authors contributed equally to this work (2013)
  • Brown H.L.D., Kaun, K.R., Edgar, B.A. (2012) A small GTPase Rheb affects central brain neuronal morphology and memory formation in Drosophila. PLoS One 10.1371/journal.pone.0044888. (2012)
  • Shohat-Ophir, G., Kaun, K.R., Azanchi, R., Mohammed, H., Heberlein, U. (2012) Sexual deprivation increases ethanol intake in Drosophila. Science, 335, 1351-5. (2012)
  • Kaun, K.R.‡, Devineni, A.V.‡, Heberlein, U. (2012) Drosophila as a model to study drug addiction (Review article). Human Genetics 131, 959-75. ‡These authors contributed equally to this work. (2012)
  • Kaun, K.R., Azanchi, R., Maung, Z., Hirsh, J. and Heberlein, U. (2011) A Drosophila model for alcohol reward. Nature Neuroscience, 14, 612-9. (2011)