What We Do:
DNB supports basic and clinical biomedical and behavioral research to address the public health problem of drug use disorders and addiction by developing and supporting an extramural research program that provides an understanding of the neurobiological and behavioral mechanisms of addictive drugs and their consequences. The division has 6 main goals:
- Goal 1: Identify drug targets and develop interventions to treat addiction and other adverse effects of drugs.
- Goal 2: Identify the neural substrates underlying different cognitive dimensions of substance use disorder
- Goal 3: Elucidate the neurobiological bases of individual differences in drug consequences from genes to molecules, cells and circuits
- Goal 4: Identify behavioral processes that underlie drug use disorders and addiction.
- Goal 5: Promote cross-cutting NIDA priorities in the areas of HIV, pain, sex differences, and training.
- Goal 6: Develop and sustain a diverse workforce in substance use disorders research
The Office of the Director, directs, coordinates, and supports the Division’s mission & activities through:
- Maintaining and evaluating our strategic directions and goals
- Supporting our goals through our branch structure
- Developing an leveraging collaborations and activities across NIDA and NIH
Staff Research Interests:
- Valentino, Rita, Ph.D. - Director
As the Director of DNB, Dr. Valentino, leads program staff to set a vision that advances the basic and clinical research mission of NIDA to elucidate the neurobiological underpinnings of substance use disorders from the molecular to behavioral level and to discover approaches for treating it. She bridges DBN with DTMC and DESPR by promoting translation from target discovery to drug development and by using epidemiology to inform research directions. She represents NIDA on trans-NIH initiatives including BRAIN, Neuroscience Blueprint and CCRWH. Her career spans 26 years of academic, research, and leadership experience in neuropsychopharmacology and stress neurobiology. She previously directed the Stress Neurobiology Division within the Department of Anesthesiology at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and was a Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia. Dr. Valentino is particularly recognized for her research on the neurobiology of stress, the impact of sex, age and coping style on behavioral and cognitive health, and how this can determine vulnerability to substance use. She is a Fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology and a Fellow of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.
- Roger Little, Ph.D. - Deputy Director
Roger Little has over 17 years experience in neuroscience, genetics, and psychiatric and neurological disorders. Ten years of which have been at NIH. Roger is the Deputy Director of the Division of Basic Neuroscience and Behavioral Research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse where he helps over see the NIDA extramural research portfolio in neuroscience research in addiction, pain, and HIV-Aids. Previously he was a Senior Advisor at the National Institute of Mental Health. He also served as a liaison and coordinator for trans-NIH initiatives and was a program co-lead for the Common Fund Genes, Tissue, and Expression initiative (https://commonfund.nih.gov/GTEx/index). He led a trans-NIH workgroup that created a federated network of brain banks in the US called the NIH Neurobiobank (https://neurobiobank.nih.gov). Prior to NIH, he was a post-doc at the CDC-NIOSH where he conducted basic molecular neurobiology research focused on the neural signaling pathways related to astroglial activation in response to brain injury. Dr. Little has been recognized with over 25 awards since he began at the NIH and serves on many trans NIH and other committees including the Science Advisory Committee of the National Disease Research Interchange.
- John Satterlee, Ph.D. - DNB Coordinator for Trans-NIH Programs and Activities
Dr. Satterlee oversees a broad range of grants and activities focused on molecular regulation of drug use disorder phenotypes including genomic, epigenomic, regulatory RNA, epitranscriptomic, and systems biology studies. This includes the use of model organisms to answer fundamental questions in addictive drug biology and behavioral plasticity. Other areas of interest include the development of molecular technologies for imaging and manipulation of neuronal gene expression, integration and analysis of molecular datasets, extracellular vesicles, nuclear architecture, nucleosynaptic communication and intergenerational inheritance. He also oversees a program investigating molecular aspects of HIV/AIDS progression and latency and their interaction with substance abuse. Activities: Common Fund Roadmap Epigenomics Program (co-coordinator), International Human Epigenome Consortium (representative), CF 4D-Nucleome Program (project lead), CF Extracellular RNA Communication Program (project lead), NIH Neuroscience Blueprint Coordinating Committee, Trans-NIH Transgenerational Workgroup, NIDA Genetics Workgroup, and NIDA Neuroscience Consortium.
- Beth Grigson Babecki, M.A. - Training Coordinator
Ms. Babecki serves as the Training Coordinator DNB. As a Program Official, she mentors applicants and grantees for both institutional (T32 grants) and individual training grants (F30, F31 and F32 grants). She also provides information on small grants (R03) and Career Development (K-type) grants. Ms. Babecki counsels applicants, reviews draft applications, and assists applicants in the interpretation of, and response to, scientific reviews. Grantees are assisted in preparing special requests and any necessary actions are facilitated though internal review by the NIDA Research Training Committee. Fellows nearing completion of their fellowships are mentored on submission of a NIDA research grant and by providing advice using all available human and electronic resources. Ms. Babecki also coordinates activities related to drug testing in hair and other body fluids and tissues.
- Christie Espinoza - Program Analyst
As a Program Analyst for the Division, Ms. Espinoza is responsible for collecting, organizing and analyzing data about the Division's portfolio of grants to prepare reports for the Division such as the Director’s Report, the Division's Annual Report, Government Performance and Review Act reports, and others related to funding and program activities. Ms. Espinoza also develops and coordinates arrangements for workshops, meetings, and seminars sponsored by the Division.
- Christina Hatch, Ph.D. – Program Analyst
DNB is pleased to welcome Dr. Christina Hatch, who was hired as a program analyst for DNB. Christina’s expertise is in the neural basis of processes related to decision-making, addiction, and Parkinson’s disease. Christina received a Ph.D. in Neural Science from NYU under the mentorship of Dr. Roozbeh Kiani. There, she studied perceptual decision-making and perceived confidence in humans and non-human primates using a combination of behavioral, neurophysiological, and computational approaches. Her research investigated the effect of prior probability and value information on choice and confidence and examined how these processes are instantiated across different brain areas. Prior to graduate school, Christina worked as a Research Associate in the Cellular Neurobiology Research Branch at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), where she investigated the effects of chronic drug exposure on cortical activity using electrophysiological and optogenetic techniques in a rodent model of addiction. Prior to that, she was a Postbaccalaureate Fellow in the Neurophysiological Pharmacology Section at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). There, she studied the relationship between dopamine loss and basal ganglia-thalamocortical system function using electrophysiological and pharmacological techniques in a rodent model of Parkinson’s disease. Christina holds bachelor’s degrees in Physiology and Neurobiology, Psychology, and Philosophy from the University of Maryland. She will initially be working with Dr. Susan Wright on Data Science programs and initiatives.
- Mary Kautz, Ph.D. – Program Officer; Director, NIDA Tobacco Regulatory Science Program
Dr. Kautz’s research interests include understanding the neurobiological substrates of substance abuse, throughout all phases of the addiction process, in both human and nonhuman models. Her program area specifically focuses on various aspects related to nicotine/tobacco use (e.g., initiation, cue reactivity, craving, cessation, and withdrawal) as well as the tobacco regulatory aspects associated with the use of a wide array of tobacco products, including electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). Dr. Kautz received a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology, with an emphasis in behavioral psychopharmacology, from The American University, Washington DC. She continued her training with NIH-funded post-doctoral fellowships first at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and then at the former Bowman Gray School of Medicine (now Wake Forest School of Medicine), conducting behavioral pharmacology research in both rodent and non-human primate models. As a US Army Captain and then as a Civilian Contractor, Dr. Kautz spent 10 years conducting DoD-funded clinical sleep research at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, examining pharmacological approaches to maintain or improve cognitive performance during simulated sustained/continuous operations. She joined NIDA in 2007 as a Program Official and, in 2014, became the NIDA Liaison to the Tobacco Regulatory Science Program, an interagency partnership program between the NIH and the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products created to help foster a research program addressing the regulatory authorities relevant to the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. She serves as the NIDA contact on numerous NIH-FDA initiatives associated with this program.
- Flair Lindsey - Program Analyst
Ms. Lindsey joined the Division of Extramural Research (DER) at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a program analyst within the Office of Research Training in 2015. She provides guidance on NIDA research training programs to applicants, coordinates numerous research training activities and prepares and evaluates research training data. Additionally, Ms. Lindsey serves as the lead contact on the “NIDA Research Education Program for Clinical Researchers and Clinicians” R25 program. Prior to her position with DER, Ms. Lindsey developed and coordinated several diversity research training programs at NIDA beginning in 1995. She received her B.A. in Mass Media: Journalism from the University of the District of Columbia.
- Myriam Selmane - Program Analyst
As a Program Analyst for the Division, Ms. Selmane is responsible for implementing the administrative and technical procedures for the Division. She assists in the processing and referral of grant applications for the Division. She is responsible for overseeing all office purchases and meeting registrations. She is also responsible for keeping track of the schedules, meetings, appointments of the Director and Deputy Director; setting up meetings and arranging travel. She is responsible for tracking the Division's purchasing of office supplies. She is the liaison for the Director and Deputy Director in their absence and maintains contact with them. She coordinates activities among the various Branches of DBNBR and the Director's office. Ms. Selmane also develops and coordinates arrangements for workshops, meetings, and seminars sponsored by the Division. She keeps track of the official correspondence between DBNBR with the office of the Director of NIDA. Ms. Selmane is a District of Columbia Notary Public.
- Shyra Witcher – Program Support
Ms. Witcher is responsible for handling the travel requests for the division and assists with general requests as needed.
- Susan N. Wright, Ph.D. – Program Director for Big Data and Computational Science
Dr. Wright is the DNB coordinator for big data and computational science. She has a background in both neuroscience and computer science, and experience with experimental, theoretical/computational, and clinical research. She oversees activities focused on leveraging data science to advance NIDA’s Strategic Plan, and development and implementation of research portfolios. Other areas included in her portfolio are data curation, sharing, access, reproducibility, security, analysis, harmonization, quality metrics and standards, and visualization. She is a representative for NIDA on several trans-NIH and other committees, including the Science and Technology Research Infrastructure for Discovery, Experimentation, and Sustainability (STRIDES) initiative.