Dr. Garret Stuber's primary research goal is to delineate the neural circuitry that underlies motivated behavioral processes that are perturbed in neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders such as addiction, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and autism spectrum disorders. Professor Stuber has the expertise, leadership, and motivation necessary to run a highly successful and productive research program, with extensive training in both behavioral neuroscience and neurophysiology.
Professor Stuber received his BS degree from University of Washington in 2000 and his Ph.D. in Neurobiology from UNC Chapel Hill in 2005 where he worked with Regina Carelli and Mark Wightman. He completed his postdoctoral work with Antonello Bonci at UCSF where he learned slice electrophysiology and established optogenetic approaches to study neural circuit function.
Professor Stuber started the Stuber Lab in 2010 in the Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience Center at UNC. He has co-authored over 50 manuscripts on the neurocircuitry underlying motivated behavior. While not in the lab Garret spends time with his family and enjoys cycling and traveling.
Industry Expertise (5)
Areas of Expertise (9)
Gill Transformative Investigator Award (2015) (professional)
Professor Stuber is honored for his contributions to cellular and molecular neuroscience.
UNC Hettleman Prize (2014) (professional)
Dr. Garret Stuber is honored with the highly prestigious 2014 Philip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement. Established by Philip Hettleman in 1986, the award recognizes four highly promising faculty members at Carolina.
The Freedman Prize for Exceptional Achievement in Basic Research (2013) (professional)
Professor Stuber is honored with the Freedman Prize for his research to dissect the role of dopamine and non-dopamine neurons in the midbrain.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Ph.D., Neurobiology 2005
University of Washington: B.S., Psychology 2000
- Stuber Lab : Founder
- UNC Neuroscience Center : Member
Media Appearances (2)
Brain Cells Behind Overeating
The Scientist online
"Scientists have defined mouse neurons responsible for excessive food consumption at an unprecedented level of detail."
Dr. Stuber is featured in this article.
New deep-brain imaging reveals separate functions for nearly identical neurons
Medical Xpress online
"Researchers at the UNC School of Medicine have used new deep-brain imaging techniques to link the activity of individual, genetically similar neurons to particular behaviors of mice. Specifically, for the first time ever scientists watched as one neuron was activated when a mouse searched for food while a nearly identical neuron next to it remained inactive; instead, the second neuron only became activated when the mouse began eating."
Dr. Stuber is featured in this article.
Event Appearances (3)
Circuits Involved in Feeding and Consummatory Behavior
Optogenetic Approaches to Understanding Neural Circuits & Behavior: Gordon Research Conference Sunday River Newry, ME
An estrogen-gated hypothalamic reward circuit
Hypothalamic Circuits for Control of Survival Behaviors Ashburn, Virginia
Controlling the brain with light: An optogenetic approach to study the neural circuit basis of behavior
Forty-Fifth Annual Winter Conference on Brain Research Snowbird, Utah
Brain reward systems play a central role in the cognitive and hedonic behaviors of mammals. Multiple neuron types and brain regions are involved in reward processing, posing fascinating scientific ques- tions, and major experimental challenges. Using diverse approaches including genetics, electrophys- iology, imaging, and behavioral analysis, a large body of research has focused on both normal functioning of the reward circuitry and on its potential significance in neuropsychiatric diseases. In this introduction, we illustrate a real-world application of optogenetics to mammalian behavior and physiology, delineating procedures and technologies for optogenetic control of individual components of the reward circuitry. We describe the experimental setup and protocol for integrating optogenetic modulation of dopamine neurons with fast-scan cyclic voltammetry, conditioned place preference, and operant conditioning to assess the causal role of well-defined electrical and biochemical signals in reward-related behavior.
Postpartum neuropsychiatric disorders are a major source of morbidity and mortality and affect at least 10% of childbearing women. Affective dysregulation within this context has been identified in association with changes in reproductive steroids. Steroids promote maternal actions and modulate affect, but can also destabilize mood in some but not all women. Potential brain regions that mediate these effects include the medial preoptic area (mPOA) and ventral bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (vBNST). Herein, we review the regulation of neural activity in the mPOA/vBNST by environmental and hormonal concomitants in puerperal females. Such activity may influence maternal anxiety and motivation and have significant implications for postpartum affective disorders. Future directions for research are also explored, including physiological circuit-level approaches to gain insight into the functional connectivity of hormone-responsive maternal circuits that modulate affect.
The use of Cre-driver rodent lines for targeting ventral tegmental area (VTA) cell types has generated important and novel insights into how precise neurocircuits regulate physiology and behavior. While this approach generally results in enhanced cellular specificity, an important issue has recently emerged related to the selectivity and penetrance of viral targeting of VTA neurons using several Cre-driver transgenic mouse lines. Here, we highlight several considerations when utilizing these tools to study the function of genetically defined neurocircuits. While VTA dopaminergic neurons have previously been targeted and defined by the expression of single genes important for aspects of dopamine neurotransmission, many VTA and neighboring cells display dynamic gene expression phenotypes that are partially consistent with both classically described dopaminergic and non-dopaminergic neurons. Thus, in addition to varying degrees of selectivity and penetrance, distinct Cre lines likely permit targeting of partially overlapping, but not identical VTA cell populations. This Matters Arising Response paper addresses the Lammel et al. (2015) Matters Arising paper, published concurrently in Neuron.
The rewarding value of palatable foods contributes to overconsumption, even in satiated subjects. Midbrain dopaminergic activity in response to reward-predicting environmental stimuli drives reward-seeking and motivated behavior for food rewards. This mesolimbic dopamine (DA) system is sensitive to changes in energy balance, yet it has thus far not been established whether reward signaling of DA neurons in vivo is under control of hormones that signal appetite and energy balance such as ghrelin and leptin.
To make appropriate choices, organisms must weigh the costs and benefits of potential valuable outcomes, a process known to involve the nucleus accumbens (NAc) and its dopaminergic input. However, it is currently unknown if dopamine dynamically tracks alterations in expected reward value online as behavioral preferences change and if so, if it is causally linked to specific components of value such as reward magnitude and/or delay to reinforcement.