The Wecker Neuropsychopharmacology Laboratory was established in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences in 2008 by Dr. Lynn Wecker, Distinguished Professor Emerita at USF Morsani College of Medicine, and is currently occupied by Dr. Rex M. Philpot. The goal of this Laboratory is to investigate the relationship between brain, cognition and behavior, with an emphasis on the etiology and treatment of chemotherapy-induced cognitive deficits, addictive behaviors and ataxia.
Multidisciplinary approaches are used to:
- Elucidate how cancer treatment with chemotherapeutic agents lead to cognitive impairment
- Determine treatment and prevention approaches for chemotherapy-induced cognitive deficits
- Assess the impact of illicit drug use during adolescence on brain development and addiction vulnerability
- Explore treatment interventions for spinocerebellar ataxia and related movement disorders
Current studies and research interests include:
- Examining the role of sex hormones and gonadal ablation on the manifestation of cognitive deficits during and following cancer treatment with chemotherapy, a phenomenon called “chemo-brain.”
- Examining the role of chemotherapy and tumor induced “cytokine storm” in the development of “chemo-brain.”
- Developing dietary and nutrition-based interventions for the prevention of “chemo-brain” during and following chemotherapy.
- Examining the effectiveness of various cholinergic enhancing interventions, both nutrition based and pharmacological, for the treatment of “chemo-brain.”
- Investigating the use of nicotinic receptor agonists to reverse deficits in balance and coordination associated with ataxia.
- Examining the use of cognitive enhancing diets and pharmacological agents to improve the treatment of addiction, particularly in those who began using illicit drugs or alcohol early in life.