The National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences recently awarded a three-year, $400,000 grant to The University of Texas at El Paso’s Sergio Iñiguez, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology, to study the possible long-range side effects of a drug treatment for pediatric depressive disorder.
Iñiguez’s research, “Enduring Effects of Juvenile Ketamine Exposure,” will examine the enduring neurobehavioral consequences of early life exposure to the painkiller ketamine.
The researcher, who is the project’s principal investigator, believes that juvenile ketamine exposure will make the individual more susceptible as an adult to drug addiction, memory loss and decreased sensitivity to stress.
“We need to know ketamine’s impact on the developing brain,” Iñiguez said. “We’re talking vulnerable populations, especially girls, who are three times more likely to suffer from depression.”
The UTEP professor said his research team includes three graduate students and four undergraduates who represent the departments of psychology, biological sciences, and chemistry and biochemistry.
Iñiguez called this research project an excellent training ground for students who can use the experience to develop their own studies as they move on to master’s and doctoral programs or enter into the neuroscience or pharmacological fields.