Stories of Medical Innovation

Meet Michael Nader, PhD, Leading Expert in Preclinical Models of Drug Addiction

“When you do something rewarding, like eating chocolate, dopamine levels go up,” says Michael Nader, PhD, a professor of physiology & pharmacology at Wake Forest School of Medicine and one of the world’s leading researchers in preclinical models of drug addiction.

“Drugs of abuse like cocaine and methamphetamine elevate dopamine levels to extremely high levels. In doing so, the high amounts of dopamine need to find somewhere to go. The dopamine ends up docking itself at receptors that cause secondary effects in the brain, such as euphoria or heightened awareness.”

Those secondary effects, he explains, are what motivate a person to crave those particular drugs again and again.