Brittni Peterson

Ph.D. 2016

E-mail: bmpete@umn.edu

Thesis Title:

From estradiol to endocannabinoids: A gateway to female drug addiction

UNDERGRAD INSTITUTION AND MAJOR:
University of St. Thomas, B.S. in Neuroscience, 2010

GRADUATE ADVISOR

THESIS COMMITTEE MEMBERS

  • Donald Simone, Ph.D., Department of Pharmacology (Chair)
  • Robert Meisel, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience
  • Paul Mermelstein, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience
  • William Engeland, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience

DESCRIPTION OF GRADUATE RESEARCH
The ovarian hormone estradiol potentiates vulnerability to drug addiction in both women and female rats. Our lab has begun to elucidate the underlying neurobiological mechanisms whereby estradiol enhances female sensitivity to drugs of abuse. Specifically, we have demonstrated that estradiol interacts with metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) and the endogenous cannabinoid system, presumably through a single pathway, to influence neural and behavioral correlates of addiction in female rats.

RESEARCH CATEGORIES

  • Drug Abuse and Addiction
  • Neuroendocrine and Homeostatic Systems

GRADUATE LEVEL AWARDS AND HONORS

  • Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (F31), 2015
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, 2012

GRADUATE LEVEL PUBLICATIONS

  • Peterson BM, Martinez LA, Meisel RL, Mermelstein PG. Estradiol impacts the endocannabinoid system in female rats to influence behavioral and structural responses to cocaine. Neuropharmacology. 2016 Jun 3;110(Pt A):118-124.
  • Peterson BM, Mermelstein PG, Meisel RL. Impact of immersion oils and mounting media on the confocal imaging of dendritic spines. J Neurosci Methods. 2015 Jan 17;242C:106-111.
  • Peterson BM, Mermelstein PG, Meisel RL. (2015) Impact of mounting media and immersion oils on the confocal imaging of dendritic spines. J Neurosci Methods. 242:106-111
  • Peterson BM, Mermelstein PG, Meisel RL. (2014) Estradiol mediates dendritic spine plasticity in the nucleus accumbens core through activation of mGluR5. Brain Struct Funct. 220:2415-2422.
  • Martinez LA, Peterson BM, Mermelstein PG, Meisel RL (2014) Estradiol facilitation of cocaine-induced locomotor sensitization in female rats requires activation of mGluR5. Behav Brain Res. 271:39-42.
  • Meitzen J, Luoma JI, Boulware MI, Hedges VL, Peterson BM, Toumela K, Britson K, Mermelstein PG (2013) Palmitoylation of estrogen receptors is essential 1 for neuronal membrane signaling. Endocrinology 154:4293-4304.

GRADUATE LEVEL ABSTRACTS

  • Peterson BM, Martinez LA, Leishman E, Bradshaw HB, Meisel RL, Mermelstein PG. In female rat nucleus accumbens, the endocannabinoid system mediates the effects of estradiol on psychostimulant responses and synaptic plasticity. (2015) Cannabinoid Function in the CNS: From Molecules to Disease Mechanisms. Gordon Research Conference, Lucca (Barga), Italy.
  • Peterson BM, Mermelstein PG, Meisel RL (2014) Estradiol recruits the cannabinoid system to enhance psychostimulant locomotor sensitization in female rats. 44th Annual Society for Neuroscience meeting, Washington, D.C.
  • Peterson BM, Mermelstein PG, Meisel RL (2014) Estradiol recruits the cannabinoid system to enhance psychostimulant locomotor sensitization in female rats. International Congress of Neuroscience, Sydney, Australia.
  • Peterson BM, Mermelstein PG, Meisel RL (2014) Estradiol mediates dendritic spine plasticity in the nucleus accumbens and hippocampus through activation of group I mGluRs. Organization for the Study of Sex differences, Minneapolis, MN.
  • Peterson BM, Mermelstein PG, Meisel RL (2013) Estradiol activation of group I metabotropic glutamate receptors confers dendritic spine plasticity in the nucleus accumbens and hippocampus. 43rd Annual Society for Neuroscience meeting, San Diego, CA.
  • Peterson BM, Mermelstein PG, Meisel RL (2013) Estradiol treatment bidirectionally regulates dendritic spine density in the ventral striatum: A role for metabotrophic glutamate receptors. 17th Annual Meeting of the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology, Atlanta, GA.

PROFESSIONAL PRESENTATIONS

  • Endocannabinoids mediate the facilitatory effects of estradiol on female drug addiction. (2015). Cannabinoid Function in the CNS. Endocannabinoid Signaling in Neurobiology: From Molecules to Networks. Gordon Research Seminar, Lucca (Barga), Italy.
  • Lipids and Addiction: a role for estradiol and endocannabinoids. (2015). University of Minnesota Graduate Program in Neuroscience colloquium series, Minneapolis, MN.
  • Lipids and Addiction: how estrogens and cannabinoids interact with drugs of abuse. (2014). 3 Minute Thesis Competition 6th annual Biomedical Research Day. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.
  • Mechanisms of estradiol in mediating female sensitivity to psychostimulants. (2014). University of Minnesota Graduate Program in Neuroscience colloquium series, Minneapolis, MN.
  • The role of estrogens in female drug addiction (2013). Carleton College, Northfield, MN

ROTATIONS

  • Robert Meisel, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience
  • Paul Mermelstein, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience
  • A. David Redish, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience
  • Lorene Lanier, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience

GPN COMMITTEES

  • Career Facilitation Committee, Founding Member, 2015-current

OTHER COMMITTEE INVOLVEMENT

  • Advanced Professional Degree Consulting Club, Officer and Internship Coordinator, 2015
  • Emerge Bioscience Workshop Series, Organizer, 2015

PROFESSIONAL OUTREACH

  • Brain Awareness Week

Apple Valley Elementary, Apple Valley, MN (October 2014)
Como Elementary School, St. Paul, MN (November 2013)
L'Etoile de Nord French Immersion, St. Paul, MN (April 2013)        
Jefferson High School, Alexandria, MN (January 2013)
MTS Elementary School, Minneapolis, MN (May 2012)
Hidden Valley Elementary School, Savage, MN (February 2012)

  • Minnesota Science Museum Social Science, St. Paul, MN

Neuroscience of Zombies (October 2014)
Science of Sex Booth (February 2014)

  • Minnesota State Fair Brain Booth St. Paul, MN (August 2012-2015)
  • Recruitment event, Carleton College, Northfield, MN

7th annual Midbrains Conference (October 2013)

  • Minnesota Brain Bee, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

Score keeper, Lab tour guide (February 2013-2015)

  • Minnesota Academy of Sciences: Science Bowl, St. Paul, MN

High school score keeper (January 2013)
Middle school score keeper (February 2013)

INTERNSHIPS

  • Advanced Professional Degree Consulting Club, Spring 2015
  • Office for Technology Commercialization, Summer 2015
  • Nelsen Biomedical, Fall 2015

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS

  • Society for Neuroscience, 2010-present
  • Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology, 2012-present
  • Organization for the Study of Sex Differences, 2013-present

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE UMN?
While applying for graduate school, I was working as a Junior Scientist at the U of MN and consequently got to know several faculty and graduate students in the GPN. I was immediately impressed by the GPN and, upon interviewing at other universities, I found that other programs did not compare. The GPN retreat solidified my decision. I was not only inspired by the ability of the current students to communicate their research effectively, but by their interactions with each other and the faculty. It was then that I knew I wanted to begin my graduate training in this collaborative and supportive environment.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A FIRST YEAR GRADUATE STUDENT?
Identify potential career paths early on in graduate school so you can get the relevant experiences that will make you competitive in that career.

 

Brittni Peterson