Barry B. Wolfe

Director of Ph.D. Graduate Studies
Director of M.S. Graduate Studies
Professor of Pharmacology
Ph.D., Chemistry
University of California, Santa Barbara, 1973
(202) 687-1420
bwolfe01@georgetown.edu 

Dr. Wolfe is not available as a PhD thesis mentor but is available as a co-mentor or thesis committee member or a mentor for MS projects.  Neurotransmitter receptors are involved in transducing information in the central and peripheral nervous systems. My laboratory studies receptors and their associated proteins and biochemical signaling systems.  We are especially interested in receptors that are utilized for fast transmission, such as the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor.  Such receptors are composed of multiple subunits and the effects of each of these subunits on the function and pharmacology of the assembled receptor is incompletely understood.

The major project underway in the laboratory involves neuronal nicotinic receptors.  These receptors are ligand-gated ion channels important in the brain and responsible for addiction to nicotine, aspects of memory and learning, and as well as mediating most of the neurotransmission in the peripheral nervous system.  Many subunits exist that can form these receptors and the properties of the resulting receptors depend on their subunit composition. 

Specific subunits have been implicated in nicotine addition.   In particular, we are currently studying the effects of the alpha5 subunit on the function of the assembled receptor.   A variant of this subunit has been associated with extreme levels of cigarette smoking.  Using molecular approaches, receptors are being generated with the alpha5 subunit (both variants) assembled with other subunits, each in a defined position, to try to understand the functional, pharmacological, and regulatory significance of the variants of this subunit.   Additionally, several antibodies have been developed to study these receptors, their subunit combinations, and their regulation both in vivo and in vitro

Selected Publications:

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