Matthew McGregor

Matthew McGregor, PhD student, neuroscience

Illuminates addiction in the brain

“Matthew McGregor is a collaborative and highly productive member of the Lalumiere lab and Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Neuroscience. He is a supportive colleague that helps others refine their approaches to empirical investigation.” -Marco Pipoly, neuroscience PhD candidate

Hometown: Fairport, New York

Faculty mentor/advisor: Ryan LaLumiere, associate professor, psychological and brain sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

What is your degree program and expected graduate date? Neuroscience PhD, spring 2025

Please describe your research: My research focuses on the neurobiology of addiction and relapse. Specifically, I am interested in identifying the mechanisms that regulate opioid craving and seeking.  I manipulate activity in brain regions of interest and observe changes in opioid-seeking behavior, allowing me to identify the structures and pathways necessary for promoting or inhibiting opioid seeking.

In simple terms, why does this research matter? Relapse to drug use, and the underlying failure to suppress drug seeking in the face of adverse consequences, remains a significant barrier to the treatment of addiction. Relapse rates are particularly high among opioid users, yet the mechanisms that select for opioid seeking versus the inhibition of this behavior remain largely unknown. By determining the role of specific pathways in regulating heroin seeking, my work will inform our understanding of the neural circuits that drive motivated behaviors in the face of adverse outcomes.

How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I began laboratory rotations as soon as I started at the University of Iowa.

How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? My research drives my success at the University of Iowa. In addition to the technical and scientific communication skills I have developed, research has made me a better problem solver. Encountering unexpected problems in the lab has definitely made me more confident thinking on my feet.

What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? I hope to continue pursuing neuroscience research as a preclinical scientist in industry.

Read more about Matthew: Neuroscience student finds perfect match at Iowa

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