- Dr. Ehringer's research is aimed at identifying and understanding genetic underpinnings associated with alcohol and nicotine addiction. A major component of her work is to study variations in the human genes that encode for neuronal nicotinic receptors. The main binding site for nicotine, and also influenced by other drugs, these receptors have been associated with nicotine dependence, alcohol use and dependence, and other drug behaviors. Her laboratory uses human statistical genetics and molecular approaches to study the biological mechanisms that may be influenced by differences in genes. Another project in the lab is focused on understanding the effects of voluntary exercise on alcohol behaviors, and identifying differences in gene expression correlated with alcohol use and exercise.