Samantha Yohn Ph.D.
Biosketch and Research Interests
Samantha Yohn completed her doctoral work under the mentorship of Dr. John D. Salamone at the University of Connecticut, wherein her research focused on developing animal models that are useful for characterizing potential treatments for effort-related motivational deficits seen in depression, schizophrenia and other related disorders. Through use of a variety of behavioral and neurochemical techniques, Samantha found that there is a bidirectional dopaminergic modulation of motivated behavior. Results from her studies also indicate that monoamine uptake inhibitors with distinct mechanisms of action have differential effects on effort-related choice behavior. In sum, her findings provide insight into the neurochemical factors that regulate effort-related choice behavior and validate a pharmacological animal model that can assess well-known, putative or novel agents for therapeutic potential.Through these studies, Samantha recognized a need for further training in molecular pharmacology in both tissue culture and more integrated preparations like brain slice electrophysiology, which led her to seek a fellowship at the Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery with Dr. P. Jeffrey Conn. In June 2016, Samantha joined the Conn lab to learn about neuropharmacology at both the in vitro and in vivo level.
In the Conn lab, Samantha is investigating the therapeutic potential of metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs). Through an integrated approach of electrophysiological and behavioral studies, she hopes to determine the mechanism whereby mGluR activation alters striatal dopamine (DA) signaling and ultimately exerts antipsychotic-like effects. Developing an understanding of these mechanisms will provide insights into signaling pathways with the potential to mediate antipsychotic efficacy and will assist a drug discovery efforts aimed at developing novel treatments for schizophrenia.