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The Barker Lab is located in the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology at Drexel University's Center City Campus.

The focus of our research is to understand the neurobiological bases of behavioral flexibility and cognitive control, and the mechanisms by which these processes are dysregulated in neuropsychiatric illnesses.

About Our Research

Neural circuits regulating response strategy selection
Investigation of the neuroanatomical substrates of habitual reward-seeking has largely focused on the medial prefrontal cortex and the dorsal striatum, with discrete subregions within these structures having opposing roles in the expression of habits versus actions. Learn more.

Drug-induced alterations in circuits that promote the development of inflexible behavior
Historically, the focus of addiction research has been on developing strategies to reduce the rewarding aspects of drugs of abuse. However, the addiction field is increasingly recognizing that this focus on addiction as a disorder of the mesolimbic reward system is incomplete. Learn more.

Interactions between innate and acquired risk factors for inflexible behavior
While many models of addiction have focused on the neurobiological changes that occur across the development of dependence caused by drug exposure, an additional line of research in the Barker Lab is focused on identifying innate risk for addictive behavior. Learn more.

Current Lab Members

Jacqueline Barker, PhD

Jacqueline Barker, PhD: Pharmacology & Physiology

Principal Investigator

Jacqui earned her BA in psychology at Ohio Wesleyan University. She completed her PhD in neuroscience at Yale University in the lab of Jane Taylor, before moving to the Medical University of South Carolina to complete her postdoctoral training with Judson Chandler. Jacqui started her lab in the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology at Drexel University College of Medicine in the fall of 2017.

Kathleen Bryant

Katie Bryant, Barker Lab Member

PhD Candidate, Neuroscience

Katie is completing her PhD with the Neuroscience PhD Program at the Drexel University College of Medicine. Her work in the lab focuses on ventral hippocampal circuits in the regulation of behavioral flexibility.

Lauren Buck (Plyler), MS

Lauren Plyler, Barker Lab Member

Research Assistant

Lauren completed her master's in neuroscience in 2018, where she developed expertise in the use of mouse models to investigate neural function.


Laura Giacometti, PhD

Laura Giacometti, Barker Lab Member

Postdoctoral Scholar

Laura completed her PhD with Dr. Ramesh Raghupathi in 2018, where her dissertation focused on sex differences in long term behavioral alterations following adolescent mild traumatic brain injury. She is building on her expertise in sex differences to investigate sex-specific effects of chronic ethanol exposure on astrocyte activity and its role in regulating reward seeking and depression-related behaviors.

Yue Lu

Yue Lu, Barker Lab Member

Master's Student, Drug Discovery and Development

Yue is a 3+2 coop student between China Pharmaceutical University and Drexel University, currently completing her Master's in Drug Discovery & Development. Her background in food and nutrition at CPU has facilitated her transition to studying reward seeking in rodent models in the Pharmacology & Physiology Department.

Jessie Nagle

Jessie Nagle, Barker Lab Member

Master's Student, Molecular and Cell Biology and Genetics

Jessie is completing her Master’s degree in the Molecular & Cell Biology & Genetics (MCBG) program with a research interest in Genetics and Epigenetics.

Mitch Nothem, PhD

Mitch Nothem, Barker Lab Member

Postdoctoral Scholar

Mitch completed his PhD with Dr. James Barrett in 2020, where his dissertation focused on the effects of peripheral nerve injury and gabapentin on cortical pain processing. His postdoctoral work will focus on the interaction between chronic pain and substance use disorders.

Sam Stine

Sam Stine, Barker Lab Member

Master's Student, Pharmacology and Physiology

Sam completed her BS in Psychology at The University of the South and is working on her Master's degree in the Pharmacology & Physiology program with a research interest in drug use and behavior.

Qiaowei Xie

Qiaowei Xie, Barker Lab Member

PhD Student, Pharmacology and Physiology

Qiaowei has returned to the lab to complete her PhD in Pharmacology and Physiology. Her research focus is neural circuit dysregulation in preclinical models of HIV.



Learn more about the Barker Lab

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Jacqueline Barker, PhD: Pharmacology and Physiology

Jacqueline Barker, PhD
Principal Investigator; Associate Professor