Dr. Ferrario joined the Pharmacology Department faculty in 2012 and is an external member of the Modern Diet and Physiology Research Center of the John B. Pierce Lab at Yale. She became an Associate Member of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology in 2016 and is currently serving as the Pharmacology Department Faculty Ally for Diversity and is a board member of the Conference on Winter Brain Research.
Research in Dr. Ferrario's lab group focuses on understanding the neurobiological mechanisms of drug addiction and obesity. They are currently focused on identifying and understanding alterations in excitatory transmission and plasticity within the brain’s “reward pathway” that contribute to these conditions. To accomplish this, they use a variety of approaches including: behavioral pharmacology to identify alterations in motivated behaviors; biochemistry to examine alterations in receptor expression, phosphorylation and signaling; and slice electrophysiology to examine changes in neuronal function and plasticity after in vivo manipulations (e.g. exposure to high fat diet or cocaine self-administration). They are currently pursuing several lines of research related to obesity including: determining neural and behavioral differences that contribute to the development of obesity, determining how a prolonged state of obesity alters excitatory transmission and plasticity in key reward areas such as the nucleus accumbens, and examining potential roles for leptin and insulin signaling in the regulation of glutamate transmission.