Barbara L. Waszczak

  • Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • School of Pharmacy

Office: 140 TF, Room 269
Phone: 617-373-3312

Ph.D., University of Michigan
BA, Kalamazoo College


Neuropharmacology of the basal ganglia and its disorders

The neurotransmitter dopamine is involved in a number of neurological and psychiatric disorders, including Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, Tourette's syndrome, schizophrenia, and tardive dyskinesia. Dopamine also mediates the reinforcing effects of virtually all drugs of abuse. Research of this laboratory focuses on deciphering how dopamine regulates specific neuronal populations within the motor and limbic circuits to ultimately facilitate movement and mediate the reward functions of dopamine, respectively. A combination of electrophysiological, anatomical, and behavioral techniques in rats are employed, including: extracellular single neuron recording and microiontophoresis; selective brain lesions (e.g. 6-hydroxydopamine lesions of substantia nigra dopamine neurons to create an animal model of Parkinson's disease); microinjections of dopamine receptor-selective drugs into the corpus striatum followed by behavioral and electrophysiological assessment; fluorescence retrograde labeling of striatal neurons; and immunohistochemical determination of D1 and D2 dopamine receptors on striatal efferent neurons.

1. Waszczak, B.L., L.P. Martin, G.J. Greif and J.E. Freedman (1998) Expression of a D2 receptor-activated K+ channel on identified striatopallidal and striatonigral neurons. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 95: 11440-11444.
2. Hinerth, M.A., H.A. Collins, M.L. Baniecki, R.N. Hanson and B.L. Waszczak (2000) A novel in vivo electrophysiological assay for the effects of cocaine and putative "cocaine antagonists" on dopamine transporter activity of substantia nigra and ventral tegmental area dopamine neurons. Synapse 38: 305-312.
3. Waszczak, B.L., L.P. Martin, N. Boucher, N. Zahr, R.W. Sikes and J.R. Stellar (2001) Electrophysiological and behavioral output of the rat basal ganglia after intrastriatal infusion of d-amphetamine: Lack of support for the basal ganglia model. Brain Res. 920: 170-182.
4. Waszczak, B.L., L.P. Martin, H.E. Finlay, N. Zahr and J.R. Stellar (2002) Effects of individual and concurrent stimulation of striatal D1 and D2 dopamine receptors on electrophysiological and behavioral output from the rat basal ganglia. J. Pharmacol. Exp. Therap. 300: 850-861.
5. Ong, C., R.H. Melloni and B.L. Waszczak (2002) Differential expression of D2 dopamine receptor immunoreactivity (D2-IR) on striatonigral and striatopallidal neurons in the rat. Soc. for Neurosci. Abst. #359.11.
6. Zahr, N.M., L.P. Martin and B.L. Waszczak (2004) Subthalamic nucleus lesions alter basal and dopamine agonist stimulated electrophysiological output from the rat basal ganglia. Synapse 54: 119-128.