NIDA-NIAAA Neuroscience Workgroup

What We Do:

The mission of the NIDA-NIAAA Neuroscience Workgroup [N3W] is to provide a forum to facilitate the discussion and development of neuroscience research programs to understand, prevent, and treat substance abuse and addiction. The N3W membership is composed of extramural and intramural staff from NIDA and NIAAA who have broad interests in understanding the neuroscience of addiction. Workgroup members provide a diverse representation in basic, pre-clinical, clinical and epidemiological research, and in science policy and grants administration.

The Workgroup achieves its mission at the NIH by promoting discussions of emerging research and policy issues relevant to the neuroscience of substance use disorders [SUD] across Divisions, Offices and Institutes, and for the public by supporting the dissemination of current knowledge on emerging areas of the neuroscience of substance abuse through workshops and seminars. Towards the latter, N3W hosts a Cutting-Edge Seminar Series which is held at the NIH, and presents the Joint NIDA-NIAAA Frontiers in Addiction Research Mini-Convention as a satellite event in association with the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. The public is encouraged to contact the Workgroup with ideas to promote the neuroscience missions of NIDA and NIAAA.

Addiction to drugs and alcohol has been termed a brain disease. This concept drives NIDA’s and NIAAA’s neuroscience research programs.  Fundamental knowledge obtained through basic and pre-clinical neuroscience research has identified brain and nervous system mechanisms that contribute to the development of substance use disorders and the vulnerability to addiction. Thorough understandings of the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie addictive behaviors are critical for the development of pharmacotherapeutic approaches and behavioral interventions towards the effective treatment of SUD. The incidence and prevalence of substance use in vulnerable populations guides specific areas of neuroscience research on SUD. Clearly, research on the neuroscience of addiction benefits when multiple expertise and viewpoints are considered. Consequently, the interests of the membership of the N3W embrace and draw from a broad range of areas of scientific inquiry to discuss current and future directions for research on the neuroscience of addiction.

Webinars by Early Career investigators in Addiction Neuroscience (WECAN)

In efforts to fostering young investigators in the alcohol and SUD research fields, the N3W hosts monthly Webinars by Early Career investigators in Addiction Neuroscience (WECAN). WECAN is a collaborative webinar series organized by NIDA and NIAAA Program Officers. WECAN provides opportunities for early career scientists to showcase their research in a short virtual presentation.

Past WECAN speakers:

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    2021 WECAN speakers - see text
    Brandon Henderson, PhD. Assistant Professor, Marshall University.
    Tobacco and vaping flavors alter dopamine neurons and contribute to addiction-related behaviors.
  • Jennifer T. Wolstenholme, PhD. Assistant Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University.
    Binge Drinking in Adolescence: Epigenetic Dysregulation of Frontal Cortex Development and the Influence of Social Isolation.
  • Ana Clara Bobadilla, PhD. Assistant Professor, University of Wyoming.
    Reward-specific ensembles in the nucleus accumbens core
  • Amanda Barkley-Levenson, PhD. Assistant Project Scientist, University of California San Diego.
    Translational genetic strategies for identifying novel therapeutic targets for alcohol use disorder
  • Dionna W Williams, PhD. Assistant Professor, Johns Hopkins University.
    Cocaine and Antiretroviral Therapy Efficacy.
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    2022 Wecan Speaker - see text
    Grayson Sipe, PhD. Postdoctoral Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
    Astrocyte-neuron crosstalk: a link between arousal disorders and addiction?
  • Daniel Castro, PhD. Assistant Professor, Washington University in St. Louis.
    Next-generation approaches for neuropeptidergic research on affect and motivation.
  • Miriam Bocarsly, PhD. Assistant Professor, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.
    Neural circuitry underlying anxiolytic effects of alcohol
  • Luis Tuesta, PhD. Assistant Professor, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
    Role of microglia in drug craving and relapse
  • Emine Yalcin, PhD. Research Assistant Professor, Brown University.
    Effects of Chronic Alcohol and Cigarette Smoke Exposures on White Matter Sphingolipids and Neurobehavioral Function

WECAN organizers:


  • Olivier Berton
  • John Fedota


  • Mohammed Akbar
  • Dominique Lorang-Leins
  • Ben Xu

Sponsored Activities: