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Source: Amanda Higley, 443-740-2500, higley@mail.nih.gov
News release prepared by: Megan Wilson, 785-532-6415, media@k-state.edu

Monday, Feb. 9, 2009

K-STATE GRADUATE STUDENT RECOGNIZED FOR EXCELLENCE IN RESEARCH

MANHATTAN -- A Kansas State University graduate student in psychology has received a Fellows Award for Research Excellence from the National Institutes of Health.

Amanda Higley, a doctoral student from San Ramon, Calif., received the award for her research on brain mechanisms that underlie methamphetamine addiction. The honor includes $1,000 travel award so she can present her research at a scientific meeting. Higley also has received a predoctoral research fellowship from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, where she is conducting drug abuse-related research for her doctoral dissertation.

Higley was one of only 271 recipients of the Fellows Award for Research Excellence. Recipients are selected based on a blind peer review of their research.

According to Higley, the ultimate goal of her research is to develop medication to effectively treat drug addiction. She said drugs of abuse cause dopamine, a neurotransmitter produced by the brain, to accumulate in the brain. This accumulation is involved in developing drug addiction. In her research, Higley found that pharmacologically blocking the dopamine 3 receptor resulted in a decrease in methamphetamine-induced addictive behaviors without affecting behavior for natural rewards.

Higley plans to graduate from K-State in May and would like to teach and mentor future students and scientists. She has a bachelor's degree from Jamestown College and a master's degree in psychology from K-State.