Ralph Lydic, PhD
Bert La Du Professor of Anesthesiology
Professor of Physiology
Faculty Member, Neuroscience Graduate Program
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health funds Dr. Lydic's laboratory. The goals of his research programs are to elucidate the mechanisms by which sleep, opioids, and volatile anesthetics depress breathing and arousal. The evolutionary perspective, and current data, supports the view that neurons generating sleep and wakefulness preferentially modulate the ability of opioids, hypnotics, and anesthetics to obtund wakefulness. This concept underlies work in Dr. Lydic's laboratory characterizing the neurochemical and signal transduction processes through which cholinergic neurons modulate sleep, arousal, and autonomic control. Recent work has shown that adenosine and nitric oxide modulate pontine acetylcholine release and arousal. A second research program is characterizing the effects of opioids on cholinergic neurotransmission. These studies aim to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which opioids inhibit cholinergic neurotransmission and disrupt sleep and breathing. Both of these research programs encourage an active interaction between basic and clinical investigators.