New Staff Members
DNB is excited to welcome Dr. Jessica Mollick as a new Program Officer in the Behavioral Cognitive Neuroscience Branch. Jessica’s areas of scientific interest and expertise include the neural mechanisms of reward learning, emotion, and decision-making, including social decision-making, and how these mechanisms are influenced by substance use disorders. She also has an interest in neuroimaging methods and computational models of reward learning and decision-making. Jessica received her bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Science from the University of California – Berkeley. She then completed a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Colorado – Boulder, where her research focused on computational neural network models of the basal ganglia, amygdala and dopamine system under the mentorship of Dr. Randall O’Reilly, and neuroimaging research on reward learning, including the neural mechanisms of conditioned inhibition. Jessica completed postdoctoral training at Yale University in the Department of Psychiatry under the mentorship of Dr. Hedy Kober. Her work at Yale University focused on examining decision-making for wins and losses in individuals with cocaine use disorders, and meta-analysis of the neural mechanisms of prediction error. Her knowledge and expertise will be a great addition to DNB.
DNB welcomes Dr. Hoang Le, who recently joined the Division as a program Officer in the Chemistry, Pharmacology and Physiology (CPP) Branch. Dr. Le has an extensive background in organic and medicinal chemistry. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a B.S. degree in chemistry and received a Ph.D. degree in organic chemistry from Cornell University. He then conducted his postdoctoral research in medicinal chemistry and enzymology under the guidance of Dr. Richard Silverman at Northwestern University. Before joining NIDA, he was an Assistant Professor of Medicinal Chemistry in the Department of BioMolecular Sciences in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Mississippi. The research in his independent lab was inspired by natural products and aimed to discover and develop novel derivatives of natural products that are biologically relevant for the treatment of cancers, infectious diseases, and neurological disorders including substance use disorder. His recent work was focused on ligands of the kappa opioid receptor including ligands based on the natural product salvinorin A for treatment of pain and substance use disorder. As a Program Officer at DNB, Dr. Le will initially focus on developing and expanding a portfolio of grants on the chemistry and pharmacology of opioid receptors with special emphasis on novel ligands and molecular probes derived from natural product scaffolds.
What We Do:
The mission of the Division of Neuroscience and Behavior is to discover, facilitate and promote outstanding basic animal and human research towards the mission of NIDA, to identify the causes and consequences of drug use disorders and addiction across the lifespan and to guide treatment strategies. We develop and support an extramural research program that will advance the understanding of the genetic, chemical, neurobiological and behavioral mechanisms of drug use disorders and their long-term consequences. Research related to the neurobiological bases of reward and the behaviors that characterize the cycle of addiction are a primary focus of DNB. Additionally, an integral component of our scientific mission is to grow and maintain a diverse workforce that is dedicated towards our research goals and this is supported through training initiatives that span from predoctoral level to mid-stage investigator.
Upcoming Meetings and Symposiums DNB Staff are Chairing or Presenting
- Da-Yu Wu is chairing an symposium titled “Neuroinflammation in Substance Use Disorder and as a Target of Treatment” at the Society of Biological Psychiatry (SOBP) annual meeting, held April 27 - 29 at San Diego, CA.
- Tristan McClure-Begley and Susan Wright are chairing a session titled “Systems Neuroscience of Substance Use” at the American Psychiatric Association (APA) annual meeting, to be held May 20-24 in San Francisco, CA.
- Sunila Nair is chairing a session titled “Neurobiology of the interrelationship between circadian rhythms and substance use disorder” at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, LLC (APSS) Sleep 2023 annual meeting, to be held June 3-7 in Indianapolis, IN.
- Jonathan Pollock is chairing a symposium titled “The Genetics and Epigenetics of Addiction” at the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) annual meeting, to be held on June 17 - 21 in Denver, CO.
- Susan Wright and Kiran Vemuri are chairing a symposium titled “Using Big Data to Understand the Role of the Gut Microbiome in Substance Use Disorders” at the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) annual meeting, to be held June 17 - 21 in Denver, CO.
- Sam Ananthan is chairing a symposium titled “Neuropeptides in Reward, Addiction, and Mental Health” at the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) annual meeting, to be held on June 17 - 21 in Denver, CO.
DNB is organized by four scientific Branches that focus on complementary strategic research areas:
- The Chemistry Pharmacology Branch (CP), directed by Dr. Subramaniam (Sam) Ananthan, is focused on early discovery and validation of targets to treat substance use disorders and adverse effects of addictive drugs. Areas of interest include the structural dynamics of receptors, computational drug design, novel mechanisms of drug delivery.
- The Genetics, Epigenetics and Development Branch (GED), directed by Jonathan Pollock , is focused on genetic determinants of vulnerability to drug use disorders and addiction, effects of addiction on epigenetic and non-coding factors that regulate gene expression and the consequences of exposure to addictive drugs at different windows of development.
- The Behavioral Cognitive Neuroscience Branch (BCN), directed by Vani Pariyadath, is concerned with the behavioral, cognitive and environmental antecedents of exposure to addictive drugs and behavioral, cognitive and environmental approaches for treating drug use disorders, addiction and the adverse consequences of addictive drugs.
- The Integrative Neuroscience Branch (IN), directed by Dr. Tristan McClure-Begley supports research related to the effects of drug user disorders on neural activity and plasticity from cellular to network levels. Additionally, this branch supports research on the effects on neuroimmune signaling and neuron-glial interactions.
- Dr. Mary Kautz is the DNB lead of the The Tobacco regulatory science program (TRSP)
Certain cross-cutting programs span all four branches including a portfolio in HIV-AIDS research, Data Science Research (led by Susan Wright, Ph.D.) and research related to sex and gender contributions to individual variability. DNB also encourages studies that leverage tools and technology arising from the BRAIN initiative to address questions relevant to substance use disorders. The Diversity and Inclusion Group (DIG) works to improve opportunities for diversity and inclusion within DNB and in the initiatives it administers.
Related Funding Opportunities:
Division of Neuroscience and Behavior
National Institute on Drug Abuse
C/O NIH Mail Center
NIDA 3WFN MSC 6018
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Gaithersburg, MD 20892*
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