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Agbonlahor Okhuarobo: A Journey Through Alcohol Research


Agbonlahor Okhuarobo

Agbonlahor Okhuarobo was an external graduate student doing his Ph.D. thesis work in Dr. Candice Contet’s Alcohol Research Center Lab. Agbonlahor trained as a Pharmacist at the University of Benin, Nigeria, where he taught pharmacology to undergraduate pharmacy and medical/dental students. He became interested in alcohol research during his time at the University of East London in the United Kingdom, where he graduated with a Master of Science in Pharmacology with distinction. Agbonlahor’s MSc research work involved studying dopamine and opiate systems in alcohol responses in Drosophila melanogaster (Fruit fly). In fact, when looking for a lab in which to pursue alcohol research for his Ph.D., Agbonlahor found Dr. Contet’s Lab and the Alcohol Research Center on the Scripps Research Facebook page.

Agbonlahor’s thesis project involved the effects of early life adversity on alcohol drinking and negative affective behaviors associated with alcohol dependence and the role of the parasubthalamic nucleus and corticotropin-releasing factor signaling in these behaviors. He used chemogenetic tools to explore the role of this brain region and associated circuitry in the effects of early lifetime adversity in alcohol dependence-induced behaviors.

As part of his doctoral research training, Agbonlahor applied to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's prestigious short courses, and his application was among the successful few which received financial support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This support helped cover a portion of his course tuition for attending the prestigious Neuroscience of Addiction course at the Banbury campus of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Long Island, New York, where he had the opportunity to learn recent and emerging trends from leading experts in the field in August 2019.

Following his study in Dr. Contet’s Lab, Agbonlahor aimed to do postdoctoral research training and then continue his research and teaching at the University of Benin. He was passionate about combining basic research interests developed during his master’s and Ph.D. work with human population studies. In particular, Agbonlahor was interested in how starvation and decreased access to proper nutrition and other resources during childhood influence social behaviors, risk-taking, and decision-making with respect to alcohol use in adolescence and adulthood.

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