Faculty Profile

Dr. Lucas L. Sjulson, M.D.,  Ph.D.

Lucas L. Sjulson, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Assistant Professor, Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience

Professional Interests

The long-term goal of our work is to develop novel tools and strategies for clinical neuromodulation to treat drug addiction and other neuropsychiatric disorders. To this end, efforts in the lab are focused in two primary areas:

  1. Understanding dysregulation of limbic circuits in drug addiction-related behaviors. Our previous work studied interactions between hippocampus and nucleus accumbens in cocaine conditioned place preference, providing the first evidence that cocaine preferentially strengthens connections arising from hippocampal place cells encoding the location where the animal received the drug. We are currently studying interactions between nucleus accumbens, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex in the prediction of reward value, a process whose dysregulation contributes to cravings and relapse in drug addiction. We approach these questions in rodent models using a combination of behavior, high-channel count silicon probe recordings, in vivo light field and two photon imaging, optogenetic and chemogenetic manipulations, and computational approaches.
  2. Developing and validating new technologies and targets for gene-based clinical neuromodulation. Our prior work focused on validating the nucleus accumbens as a target for DREADD-based modulation in alcohol use disorders, providing a possible alternative to more invasive modalities such as lesioning or deep brain stimulation. We are currently extending these studies to other targets and disease models. In parallel, we are developing and validating improved technologies for chemogenetic and optogenetic manipulation that will be suitable for future clinical use.

Selected Publications

Sjulson L, Peyrache A, Cumpelik A, Cassataro D, Buzsáki G. Cocaine place conditioning strengthens location-specific hippocampal coupling to the nucleus accumbens. Neuron. 2018 Jun 6;98(5):926-934.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.04.015.

Sjulson L, Cassataro D, DasGupta S, Miesenböck G. Cell-specific targeting of genetically encoded tools for neuroscience. Annu Rev Genet. 2016 Oct 6. 

Cassataro D, Sjulson L. The use of DREADDs (Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs) in transgenic mouse behavioral models. In Thiel, G (Ed.), Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs, Neuromethods Vol 108 (2015), Humana Press.

Cassataro D, Bergfeldt D, Malekian C, Van Snellenberg JX, Thanos PK, Fishell G, Sjulson L. Reverse pharmacogenetic modulation of the nucleus accumbens reduces ethanol consumption in a limited access paradigm. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2014 Jan;39(2):283-90.

More Information About Dr. Lucas Sjulson


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Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Rose F. Kennedy Center
1410 Pelham Parkway South , Room 227
Bronx, NY 10461

Tel: 718.430.2453

Research Information