In the lab, we adopt a ‘bench to bedside’ approach. In our basic research, we use zebrafish as a model species try to understand the biology of compulsive disorders. In particular, we want to understand more about the interaction between molecular (genetic/epigenetic) and environmental (alcohol, stress) factors that cause compulsive behaviours to manifest. Our approach is theoretically guided by the principle that understanding the biology of neuropsychiatric conditions will help develop more effective treatments for patients. This work involves significant amounts of method development, owing to the paucity of validated, reliable measure in zebrafish. We also carry out some preclinical/translational research in humans, in particular looking at the interactions of impulsivity/compulsivity and stress on the development of addiction. In our clinical research, we apply our findings in the laboratory to test important clinical questions, such as addiction (in humans) and compulsive (stereotypic) behaviours in domestic, farm and laboratory animals. Our research falls into three programmatic streams:
1) Basic neural and behavioural biology of impulsive/compulsive disorders.
2) Stereotypic (compulsive, repetitive) behaviour in captive/domestic animals
3) The effects of drugs (e.g., alcohol) during early brain development on behaviour and cognition.