2013 Freedman Prizewinner: Garret D. Stuber, Ph.D.

2013 Freedman Prizewinner: Garret D. Stuber, Ph.D.

Posted: July 26, 2013

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Dr. Stuber is the 2013 recipient of the Freedman Prize for  for Exceptional Achievement in Basic Research

2009 NARSAD Young Investigator Grant: Persistent Storage of Reward-Related Information in Dopamine Neurons


Garret D. Stuber, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Cell Biology and Physiology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, is being honored for his research to dissect the role of dopamine and non-dopamine neurons in the midbrain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter involved in the transmission of messages between nerve cells, and midbrain dopamine neurons have been thought to play a major role in regulating behavioral responses in addiction, anxiety, depression and other neuropsychiatric illnesses.

Little to date has been known about the mechanisms that control their activity, so the Stuber laboratory engaged a variety of cutting-edge technologies in an attempt to identify their role in mediating behaviors that might lead to new treatment targets.

A major boost in understanding dopamine neurons came with the lab’s application of a revolutionary new technology called optogenetics, which was developed by Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Scientific Council Member Karl Deisseroth, M.D., Ph.D., while he, himself, was a 2005 NARSAD Young Investigator Grantee. Optogenetics combines optical and genetic methodologies to allow researchers to manipulate neural circuits and control behavior in laboratory animals with exquisite precision. Dr. Stuber states that his use of optogenetics has been “incredibly fruitful.”

Dr. Stuber earned a B.S. degree in Psychology at the University of Washington, Seattle, in 2000, and a Ph.D. in Neurobiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2005. After a turn as a visiting scientist at the Netherlands Institute of Neuroscience, in

Amsterdam, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California at San Francisco, where he began his NARSAD Grant-supported research. He returned to the University of North Carolina as a member of the faculty in 2010.

“With the support of the NARSAD Young Investigator Grant, I was able to generate data that was essential for many other successful grant applications, including one from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.”

Learn more about the Freedman Prize