Luis Colón-Pérez, PhD of the Department of Psychiatry received the McKnight Brain Institute Post-Doctoral Fellow Runner-up for his research with Mentor, Marcelo Febo, PhD on Perinatal Cannabis Smoke Exposure and Development of Brain Network Connectivity.
The McKnight Brain Institute (MBI) Fellowships were established to support students and fellows conducting neuroscience and brain-related research in MBI affiliated laboratories.
Two winners were selected and will each receive $60,000 ($30,000/year for
two years). Three runner-ups were also selected and will each receive $30,000 ($15,000/year for two years).
Brain development in early stages of life is critical for long-term stability of functional and structural brain networks (i.e. the connectome). Abnormal functional and structural connectivity patterns have been measured in a number of disorders involving cognitive deficits, mood instability, and severe psychiatric diseases. Therefore, a stable connectome from early development to young adulthood may be vital to future cognition and emotion. Exposure to high levels of marijuana smoke during neonatal development through 2nd hand inhalation could alter neurodevelopment trajectories. However, investigating the effects of cannabis smoke on connectome development by exposing newborn infants to cannabis is impossible due to obvious ethical and major health reasons. Animal studies are thus important and needed to gain an understanding of the effects of cannabis smoke on brain connectome development and its lasting behavioral and neurobiological effects.
In this study they investigate the effects of cannabis smoke exposure during the perinatal period on structural connectivity and investigate the effects of cannabis smoke exposure during the perinatal period on functional connectivity. It is predicted that structural connectivity alterations will lead to alterations in functional connectivity. The expected changes in BOLD signals will translate into measurable changes in network connectivity in rats. This work is expected to generate markers of cannabis use during development that can be translated into human studies.