Graeme F Mason PhD
Professor of Diagnostic Radiology and of Psychiatry; Director Metabolic Modeling and Director Psychiatric MRS; Director, Neuroimaging Sciences Training Program; Chair, Magnetic Resonance Research Center Protocol Review Committee
Alcoholic Intoxication; Alcohol Induced Disorders; Alcoholism; Amino Acids; Brain Mapping; Carbohydrates; CNS Diseases; Cocaine-Related Disorders; Fatty Acids; Molecular Mechanisms of Pharmacological Action; Mood disorders; Physiological Effects of Drugs; Substance Withdrawal Syndrome; Tobacco Use Disorder
Current ProjectsAcute Effects of Ethanol on Human Neurochemistry
Impact of Acute Nicotine on Human Amino Acid Neurotransmission
Effects of Heavy Drinking on Brain Energy Metabolism
Cerebral Metabolism of Ethanol
Dr. Mason's research program is focused on the development and
evaluation of quantitative hypotheses of brain energy utilization,
neurotransmitter metabolism, and function, as well as their application
to neuropsychiatric disorders. Dr. Mason's primary methodologies are
1H and 13C magnetic resonance spectroscopy and mathematical modeling of
metabolism and enzyme kinetics, and the effects of nicotine and ethanol
on GABA, glutamate, and energy metabolism form a primary research focus
for his program.
MRS uses technology that is similar to that of standard MRI, but the results are measurements of chemicals instead of images. The chemical measurements are used to measure the effects of variability in function, disease, and pharmacology on the concentrations of brain glutamate, glutamine, GABA and other compounds that are important for brain activity.
Among the most unique capacities of this laboratory is the ability to use MRS to measure metabolic rates with the stable isotope 13C. It is possible to observe the synthesis of glutamate, glutamine, GABA, and other compounds in the intact brain. Measurements of the synthesis of these compounds provide a direct evaluation of neurotranmission in the brain. To plan experiments and evaluate data, mathematical simulations of brain metabolism are used with a user-friendly package called CWave. As theories are developed, new experiments planned, and new data obtained, the models are constantly under revision and expansion.
The goals of the laboratory are to acquire the necessary data and create concrete mathematical expressions of the metabolic regulation of brain metabolism. Such expressions will help understand basic biochemical regulation, aid the development and evaluation of pharmacologic agents, and predict the effects of functional perturbations on the health and activity of the human brain.
Extensive Research Description
Dr. Mason's research integrates quantitative approaches to measure functional brain chemistry and the study of neuropsychiatric disorders. The primary methods used are 1H and 13C magnetic resonance spectroscopy, as well as the mathematical assessment of metabolism. Current areas of research include depression, manic-depressive disorder, alcoholism, panic disorder, premenstrual syndrome, and post-partum depression. His primary areas of interest are the effects of alcohol and nicotine dependence on the brain, and to that end, my research programs evaluate acute and chronic effects of alcohol and nicotine on the brain, from the perspectives of neurotransmission, metabolism, adaptation, and vulnerability to dependence.