Our research is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms of drug addiction and mood-related disorders. Our current work is examining how calcium signaling mechanisms in the brain, activated by voltage-gated L-type calcium channels, Cav1.2 and Cav1.3, contribute to cocaine- and mood-related behaviors. This is of particular importance and high significance given the recently identified link in patients between the Cav1.2 and Cav1.3 genes, CACNA1C and CACNA1D, and neuropsychiatric disorders including bipolar disorder accompanied with high incidence of substance abuse. We are utilizing animal models in combination with genetic, cellular, and molecular techniques to identify the neural circuitry and molecular mechanisms to better understand how genetic predisposition can contribute to addiction and neuropsychiatric illness. Our hope is that a better understanding of the brain at the molecular level will aid in developing therapeutic strategies for treating addiction and co-occurring mood-related conditions.