Colleen McClung, PhD

  • Professor of Psychiatry and Clinical and Translational Science

Education & Training

  • Graduate School – University of Virginia – PhD – Biology
  • Post-Doctoral – University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center - Neuroscience

Research Grants

NIH Grants:  R01, R21, K02, P50

Research Summary

TThe work of the McClung lab is aimed at understanding the molecular biology of psychiatric disorders and addiction, focusing on the role of circadian rhythms and central rhythm disruptions in the development and progression of these diseases. This is a field that she has been involved with for the past 20 years, first as a graduate student with Dr. Jay Hirsh, then as a postdoc with Dr. Eric Nestler, and now as a PI. Over the last decade, the McClung lab has described the mechanisms by which circadian genes are intimately involved in the regulation of the brain’s reward and mood-related circuitry using mouse models. Moreover, she has shown that circadian genes are highly involved in the control of mood and reward-related behavior. The vulnerability to psychiatric disorders and the susceptibility to drug addiction in human populations is strongly associated with disruptions to the sleep/wake cycle and circadian rhythms in other processes. Therefore, by understanding how these genes regulate multiple circuits in the brain, she hopes to develop novel therapeutics targeting circadian genes that entrain and stabilize reward and mood-related circuitry.  In fact, her lab has worked with several pharmaceutical collaborators to do just that and have participated in pre-clinical studies with drugs targeting the circadian network that is poised to enter clinical trials. This is an exciting area of research that will undoubtedly lead to novel treatments for psychiatric and addictive diseases in the future.  In addition to research, Dr. McClung is dedicated to training the next generation of scientists including undergraduate students, medical students, graduate students, postdocs and research track residents.

Representative Publications

  1. Logan RW, Parekh PK, Kaplan GN, Becker-Krail DD, Williams WP 3rd, Yamaguchi S, Yoshino J, Shelton MA, Zhu X, Zhang H, Waplinger S, Fitzgerald E, Oliver-Smith J, Sundarvelu P, Enwright JF 3rd, Huang YH, McClung CA. NAD+ cellular redox and SIRT1 regulate the diurnal rhythms of tyrosine hydroxylase and conditioned cocaine reward.  Mol Psychiatry. 2018 May 4. doi: 10.1038/s41380-018-0061-1. [Epub ahead of print]. 
  2. Parekh, P.K., Becker-Krail, D., Sundaravelu, P., Ishigaki, S., Okado, H., Sobue, G., Huang, Y., and McClung, C.A. (2017) Altered GluA1 function and accumbal synaptic plasticity in the Clockdelta19 model of bipolar mania. Biological Psychiatry, in press
  3. Chen, C.Y., Logan, R.W., Tianzhou, M., Lewis, D.A., Tseng, G.C., Sibille, E., and McClung, C.A.(2016) The effects of aging on circadian patterns of gene expression in the human prefrontal cortex. Proc Natl Acad Sci, USA, 113:206-11.
  4. Sidor, M.M., Spencer, S., Dzirasa, K., Parekh, P.K., Tye, K.M., Warden, M.R., Arey, R.N., Enwright III, J.F., Jacobsen, J.P.R., Kumar, S., Remillard, E.M., Caron, M.G., Deisseroth, K., and McClung, C.A. (2015) Daytime spikes in dopaminergic activity underlie rapid mood-cycling. Molecular Psychiatry, 20:1479-80.
  5. Ozburn, A.R., Falcon, E., Twaddle, A., Nugent, A.L., Gillman, A.G., Spencer, S.M., Arey, R.N., Mukherjee, S., Lyons-Weiler, J., Self, D.W., and McClung, C.A. (2014) Direct regulation of diurnal Drd3 expression and cocaine reward by NPAS2. Biological Psychiatry 77:425-33. *Selected as a priority communication.
  6. Arey, R., Enwright III, J.F., Spencer, S., Falcon, E., Ozburn, A.R., and McClung, C.A. (2013) An important role for Cholecystokinin, a CLOCK target gene, in the development and treatment of manic-like behaviors. Molecular Psychiatry, 19: 342-350.