Dr. Chris Breivogel’s interests are around G-protein coupled receptor signaling, specifically brain cannabinoid CB1 receptors. Cannabinoid receptors are proteins found throughout the body, but at especially high levels in the brain of many, if not all, animals. This protein is the target of tetrahydrocannabinol, so it mediates the psychoactive effects of cannabis sativa, the plant also known as marijuana. Understanding how these receptor proteins work will help to understand an important system in the brain, and also help to understand the effects of using marijuana or other drugs that act on the cannabinoid receptor.
Most recently, he has been studying is the effects of synthetic cannabinoids that have recently been found in “fake marijuana” that is being sold and used by the public. There is a lot of data on the effects of THC in humans from thousands of years of marijuana use, and decades of scientific research that began as early as the 19th century. The effects of the synthetic cannabinoids in humans almost completely unknown, since people began abusing them only in the last few years. He is working on a rodent model to study the acute and chronic effects of THC compared to some of the more commonly-used synthetics.