Research Group Lab Hall

Christopher M. Olsen, PhD

Associate Professor


  • Pharmacology and Toxicology

Contact Information

General Interests

Neuroscience, Addictive Behavior and Novelty Seeking


PhD, Toxicology and Neuroscience, University of Texas, 2004
MS, Texas Tech University, 1998
BA, Baylor University, 1994

Research Experience

  • Brain Concussion
  • Brain Injuries
  • Brain Injury, Chronic
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders
  • Exploratory Behavior
  • Motivation
  • Opioid-Related Disorders
  • Substance-Related Disorders

MCW Program / Core Facilities

  • Neuroscience Research Center

Research Interests

Olsen Lab

Addiction is a chronically relapsing disorder that is strongly modulated by positive and negative environmental factors. Our lab ( focuses on how these environmental factors can influence drug intake and drug seeking using rat and mouse models of addiction.

We have two major projects to investigate environmental factors and addiction:

Environmental modulation of drug seeking ensembles. Transgenic approaches are used to identify and manipulate cells that are engaged during drug seeking following intravenous drug self-administration. We are studying the effects of positive and negative environmental factors on drug seeking and the activity of cells within drug seeking ensembles.

The impact of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) on addiction and mesocorticolimbic function. This work is done in collaboration with Drs. Brain Stemper and Matthew Budde in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Neurosurgery, respectively. We are examining the effects of mTBI on drug self-administration, drug seeking, and mesocorticolimbic function using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and functional connectivity.

View the full publication list.

Olsen Lab Image 1

Identification of neuronal ensembles involved in persistent drug seeking. TetTag (green) cells are those engaged during an initial drug seeking session, Fos+ (red) cells are those engaged during a second drug seeking session 2 weeks later.

Olsen Lab Image 2

Quantification of monocytes/microglia. Iba1+ (green) cells are surface rendered for complex analysis to examine long-lasting effect of mild traumatic brain injury on immune cells within the brain. Gray=nuclei (DAPI).