Mark Thomas, PhD
Director

612-624-4963
tmhomas@umn.edu

Dr. Thomas is a Professor of Neuroscience and Director of the Medical Discovery Team on Addiction. His research examines how addictive drugs alter the brain and how these changes can lead to compulsive drug use. His lab is now focusing on ways to disrupt addiction relapse.

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Arif Hamid, PhD
Assistant Professor
★ Newly Hired

hamid008@umn.edu

Dr. Hamid is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience. Studies in the Hamid DiRE-Lab are directed at understanding the neurobiology of brain decision-circuits (particularly the neurotransmitter Dopamine and Cortico-BasalGanglia-Thalamic pathway) that promote reward learning, and the planning and execution of desired goals. Abnormalities in these decision circuits produce neurological, psychiatric, and substance abuse disorders, so work in the lab aims to provide mechanistic and computational insights into how (mal)adaptive behaviors leverage specializations in the underlying circuitry.

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Lauren Slosky, PhD
Assistant Professor★ Newly Hired

612-301-7231
lslosky@umn.edu

Dr. Slosky is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology. Her work is focused on understanding how neuropeptide G protein-coupled receptors regulate reward, pain, and motivated behavior and how these receptors can be targeted for therapeutic benefit. Bridging molecular and behavioral pharmacology, her lab integrates biochemical, behavioral, and neuroimaging approaches in genetically engineered mice, with the goal of developing safe and effective treatments for cocaine, methamphetamine, and opioid use disorders.

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Stephanie Groman, PhD
Assistant Professor★ Newly Hired

sgroman@umn.edu

Dr. Groman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience. Her work is focused on understanding why some individuals are more susceptible to developing addiction compared to others. Her lab integrates measures of decision making and reinforcement learning with neuroimaging, pharmacology, proteomics, and genomic analyses across different developmental stages in animals with the goal of identifying biomarkers of addiction risk and new targets for treating addiction. 

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Alexander Herman, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor★ Newly Hired

612-625-1194
herma686@umn.edu

Dr. Herman is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Dr. Herman's human neuroscience lab studies neural mechanisms of decision making that are impaired in addiction and amenable to treatment with neuromodulation. His lab combines invasive and non-invasive methods including intracranial electrophysiology, direct brain stimulation, magnetoencephalography and transcranial magnetic stimulation.

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Anna Zilverstand, PhD
Assistant Professor★ Newly Hired

612-626-6020
annaz@umn.edu

Dr. Zilverstand is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry. Her work is focused on investigating how individual differences contribute to human drug addiction. Her research group combines the analysis of existing large-scale multimodal data sets with the acquisition of new data through a variety of techniques such as interviewing, neurocognitive testing, questionnaires and multi-modal neuroimaging. Novel computational methods are employed for linking social, demographic, neurocognitive, personality and clinical measures to the neuroimaging data, to explore the existence of neurobiological subtypes within the addicted population. The goal of this research is to develop neuroscience-derived individualized treatment for individuals who are at risk for either escalation of drug use or relapse. 

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Jan Zimmermann, PhD
Assistant Professor★ Newly Hired

612-625-5539
janz@umn.edu

Dr. Zimmermann is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience and the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research. His lab studies how the brain represents and constructs subjective value and how that signal is used to guide decision making. The lab is particularly interested in how the brain adaptively changes its coding strategy to encode statistical regularities within a changing environment. Using electrophysiology, ultra high field MRI and computational modeling the lab tries to understand how changes in reward encoding sensitivity could relate to a propensity for drug addiction.

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Marco Pravetoni, PhD
Associate Professor★ Newly Hired

612-347-4427
prave001@umn.edu

Dr. Pravetoni is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School. His research interest focuses on novel and more effective treatments for substance use disorders. Dr. Pravetoni’s has developed vaccines for the treatment of heroin and prescription opioid abuse and overdose. His group is also implementing a variety of strategies to generate more effective vaccines or antibody-based therapies against drugs of abuse and other unmet medical needs such as antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

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Alik Widge, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor
★ Newly Hired

612-625-7594
awidge@umn.edu

Dr. Widge is a psychiatrist and biomedical engineer. Clinically, he provides brain stimulation treatments for mood, anxiety, and substance disorders. These include deep brain stimulation, cortical stimulation, and transcranial magnetic stimulation. His research focuses on developing these treatments further, particularly the creation of new "closed loop" devices. These devices sense brain signals in real-time and deliver energy in a planned and rational fashion, compensating for each patient's specific brain network abnormalities. Dr. Widge's laboratory prototypes new stimulation paradigms and targets in rodent models, conducts clinical trials of these new technologies, and searches for biomarkers of illness and recovery to guide next-generation therapies.

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Jocelyn Richard, PhD
Assistant Professor★ Newly Hired

612-626-3872
richardj@umn.edu

Dr. Richard is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience, investigating how external cues interact with stress and negative emotional states to drive drug and alcohol seeking, even after long periods of abstinence. By measuring the activity of neurons critical for normal reward seeking, Dr. Richard can predict how intensely rats will seek out rewards like alcohol when they are exposed to environmental cues that have been previously associated with these rewards. She aims to determine what causes these neurons to be more active when animals are especially vulnerable to relapse, such as during times of intense stress or anxiety.

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Benjamin Saunders, PhD
Assistant Professor★ Newly Hired

612-626-5198
bts@umn.edu

Dr. Saunders is an assistant professor of neuroscience and member of the UMN Center for Addiction Neuroscience and Medical Discovery Team on Addiction. His research explores how drug-associated cues in the environment engage the brain to trigger drug use and relapse, with the goal of identifying biological pathways that can be targeted to prevent these behaviors.

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Steven Graves, PhD
Assistant Professor★ Newly Hired

612-624-7335
gravess@umn.edu

Dr. Graves is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology. His research is focused on the neurotoxic effects of particular psychostimulants like methamphetamine and their associations with neurodegenerative diseases.

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Sade Spencer, PhD
Assistant Professor★ Newly Hired

612-625-9929
spencers@umn.edu

Dr. Spencer is an assistant professor of Pharmacology. The broad goal of her research is to understand the synaptic mechanisms and neurocircuitry underlying drug addiction and comorbid neuropsychiatric diseases. More specifically, her research examines specific changes in synaptic transmission during and after drug self-administration. To accomplish this goal, her lab studies neuroadaptations and behavior in rodent models of addiction using standard approaches in protein biochemistry and behavioral pharmacology as well as incorporating novel techniques to genetically isolate specific cell types and circuits implicated in addiction.

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Julia Lemos, PhD
Assistant Professor★ Newly Hired

612-301-2540
jlemos@umn.edu

Dr. Lemos is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience. Her laboratory investigates how stress is processed and encoded in the brain. In particular, they interested in understanding how stress-associated neuropeptides regulate the function of neural circuits important for motivation and emotion in individuals with different life histories. Her laboratory also works to understand how chronic or traumatic stress renders the brain vulnerable to disease states such as depression, anxiety, and addiction. 

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Ben Hayden, PhD
Associate Professor★ Newly Hired

benhayden@gmail.com

Dr. Hayden is an Associate Professor in the Department of Neuroscience and the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research. His lab studies the role of the brain activity in making reward-based decisions, and in changing strategies in demanding circumstances. They do this with recordings of activity of populations of neurons in subjects making and adjusting simple decisions. They then compare these patterns with those obtained from subjects exposed to cocaine for long periods of times. This research contributes to a basic understanding of the brain circuitry of drug addiction.

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Sarah Heilbronner, PhD
Assistant Professor★ Newly Hired

612-626-4429
heilb028@umn.edu

Dr. Heilbronner is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience. She studies the "wiring diagram" of the brain. She and her team are trying to determine how different brain regions connect with one another. She is especially interested in circuits responsible for abnormal motivation and decision-making in addiction. Heilbronner uses these connectivity studies to figure out how to translate results from humans to nonhuman animal model species, and vice versa.

Full bio

Mustafa al'Absi, PhD
Professor

612-625-2214
malabsi@d.umn.edu

Dr. al’Absi is a Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Biobehavioral Health, the Director of Duluth Global Health Research Institute. Dr. al’Absi has been leading a research program integrating basic, laboratory, and clinical methods to elucidate the mechanisms by which acute and chronic stress plays a role in addiction and relapse. An important, replicated finding from his program is the blunted hormonal stress response among smokers and other stimulant users, which manifests as enhanced basal pituitary-adrenocortical activity and decreased response to a range of stressors. This dysregulated pattern of response predicts early relapse. He is currently examining the role of endogenous opioids and cannabinoids in the blunting of the stress response in cannabis users and cigarette smokers.

Full bio

Justin Anker, PhD
Assistant Professor

612-273-9819
anke0022@umn.edu

Dr. Anker received his PhD in Cognitive and Biological Psychology from the University of Minnesota. As a graduate student and postdoctoral trainee, Dr. Anker’s work focused on the biological and behavioral factors that influence vulnerability to addiction and treatment response. Dr. Anker’s current work focuses on translational research that combines methods of assessing biological stress with clinical addiction treatment methods.

Full bio

Alfonso Araque, PhD
Professor

612-806-3310
araque@umn.edu

Dr. Araque is a Professor in the Department of Neuroscience. His research interests focus on the mechanisms, properties and physiological consequences of the communication between neurons and astrocytes. His research seeks to understand how the communication between neurons and astrocytes affects physiological and pathological aspects of brain function. While most studies on drug addiction are focused on neuronal mechanisms, his team aims to elucidate the involvement of astrocytes in behaviors associated with reward signaling and psychostimulant drugs, which may reveal astrocytes as potential targets for treatment of motivation disorders such as drug addiction.

Full bio

Gavin Bart, MD, PhD
Professor

612-873-9095
bartx005@umn.edu

Dr. Bart is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota and director of the division of Addiction Medicine at Hennepin Healthcare. He is an internist and addiction medicine specialist. His areas of expertise include clinical pharmacology and the pharmacological management of opioid use disorders. His current research areas include the population pharmacokinetics of methadone, genetic influences of methadone pharmacology and treatment outcome, and improving strategies to integrate treatment of opioid use disorders into general medical settings. Dr. Bart is co-PI of NorthStar Node of the NIDA National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network and he is co-Director of the PEPFAR-SAMHSA funded Vietnam HIV-Addiction Technology Transfer Center. 

Full bio

Miles Belgrade, MD
Associate Professor

612-467-6336
belgr001@umn.edu

Dr. Belgrade is a pain physician at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System and Medical Director for Pain Tele-health at the VA. He also is a staff physician at the Minnesota Head & Neck Pain Clinic. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Neurology at the University of Minnesota Medical School. He has participated in the development of national guidelines for the management of neuropathic pain and chronic pain and has published widely on a broad spectrum of pain topics. Dr. Belgrade developed the DIRE Score, a tool used internationally to help clinicians determine who is an appropriate candidate for long-term opioid prescribing for chronic pain.

Full bio

Angela Birnbaum, PhD, FAES
Professor

612-624-3158
birnb002@umn.edu

Dr. Birnbaum is a Professor in the Department of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Director of Graduate Studies for the ECP Graduate Program. Her research examines the pharmacokinetic variability in drug exposure and response relationships in special populations.

Full bio

Jazmin Camchong, PhD
Assistant Professor

612-624-0134
camch002@umn.edu

Dr. Camchong investigates the neurobiological basis of addiction. Using neuroimaging techniques such as fMRI, she studies the relationship between patterns of brain circuit activity and treatment outcome, and the ability of non-invasive brain stimulation methods to strengthen brain circuits that support abstinence. Her goal is to develop effective non-drug, non-invasive brain stimulation interventions that aid recovery from addiction and complement existing treatment programs.

Full bio

Marilyn Carroll-Santi, PhD
Professor

612-626-6289
mcarroll@umn.edu

Dr. Carroll is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science. Her research is focused on factors that underlie drug and food addiction, such as genetic differences, impulsivity, and hormonal influences. As Director of a recent P50 Center grant, she conducts translational research with animal and human subjects on sex differences, stimulant addiction and novel treatments. Currently, she is developing animal models of novel self-initiated and -maintained long-term treatments for addiction with the translational goal of having addicted drug users manage their treatment and recovery over long periods of time.

Full bio

Wei Chen, PhD
Professor

612-625-8814
chenx075@umn.edu

Dr. Chen is a Professor of the Departments of Radiology. His research at the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) focuses on development of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)/spectroscopy (MRS) methodologies and technologies for non-invasively studying cellular metabolism, bioenergetics, function and dysfunction of the brain and other organs, which could be valuable for addiction research.

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Zhe Chen, PhD
Assistant Professor

612-624-3519
chen6867@umn.edu

Dr. Chen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience. Her research investigates the development of nerve projections that regulate reward and motivation. Miswiring of these neural circuits can negatively impact self-control and addictive behaviors. Dr. Chen’s lab utilizes a combination of molecular, genetic, and imaging approaches.

Full bio

Timothy Ebner, MD, PhD
Professor and Head, Department of Neuroscience

612-626-9204
ebner001@umn.edu

Dr. Ebner is a Professor and Head of the Department of Neuroscience. His laboratory is interested in how information in the brain is represented spatially and temporally in populations of neurons during behavior. 

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Damien Fair, PA-C, PhD
Professor, Department of Pediatrics

faird@umn.edu

Dr. Fair's career has been devoted to studying the developing brain. He uses non-invasive techniques like MRI to understand and characterize fundamental principles of brain organization structure and function. In this context he applies these principles to characterize and understand the impact and predictors of addictive drugs in adolescence and young adulthood across populations and within individuals.

Full bio

Carolyn Fairbanks, PhD
Professor, College of Pharmacy

612-625-2945
carfair@umn.edu

Dr. Fairbanks is a professor of Pharmaceutics, Pharmacology, and Neuroscience and the Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Education of the College of Pharmacy. Dr. Fairbanks and her team investigate the spinal neuroplasticity underlying the development and maintenance of chronic pain. The spinal cord carries pain signals to the brain via excitatory neurotransmission and contains most of the same inhibitory neurotransmission systems as the brain. Dr. Fairbanks' team have applied their observations to the development of new pharmacological and gene therapeutics that are designed to provide pain relief while circumventing the neural circuits that lead to substance use disorders. Spinal delivery of therapeutics that inhibit transmission of the pain signal offers a site selective method of pain control. By targeting therapeutics to the spinal cord to control pain, exposure to brainstem and reward circuitry is limited. Such approaches greatly reduce the risk of overdose and addiction.

Full bio

Jonathan Gewirtz, PhD
Professor

612-625-6653
jgewirtz@umn.edu

Dr. Gewirtz is Professor in the Department of Psychology. His research focuses on the roles played by negative emotional states (anxiety, depression) and social stress in addiction and in vulnerability to addiction.

Full bio

Brenna Greenfield, PhD
Assistant Professor

218-726-7721
green970@d.umn.edu

Dr. Greenfield is a licensed clinical psychologist and assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Biobehavioral Health on the Duluth Campus of the University of Minnesota Medical School. Her research focuses on substance use disorder treatment and recovery, with an emphasis on behavioral treatments such as mindfulness-based relapse prevention and motivational interviewing, mechanisms of behavior change, longitudinal health services research, and the promotion of health equity. She primarily collaborates with American Indian tribal nations.

Full bio

Nicola Grissom, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology

ngrissom@umn.edu

Using touchscreen behavioral testing and a suite of molecular and genetic techniques in mouse models, we work to uncover the molecular mechanisms in mesocorticolimbic regions that permit mice, and us, to learn new goal-directed behaviors, make decisions and choices between options, maintain motivation, and exert control over impulsive and habitual actions. Because these abilities are often altered in neuropsychiatric diseases, such as in substance use disorders and in neurodevelopmental disorders including autism and ADHD, understanding the molecular regulators of neuronal ensembles mediating these abilities may reveal what makes these brains unique and identify new therapeutic avenues.

Full bio

Andrew Harris, PhD
Associate Professor

612-250-0863
harr0547@umn.edu

Dr. Harris is a senior investigator at the Hennepin Healthcare Research Institute and an Associate Professor in Medicine and Psychology at the University of Minnesota. His research involves the use of preclinical models to study the behavioral pharmacology of addiction to nicotine, opioids, and other drugs of abuse.

Full bio

Dorothy Hatsukami, PhD
Professor

612-626-2121
hatsu001@umn.edu

Dr. Hatsukami is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and is the Associate Director for the Masonic Cancer Center. Her research is focused on understanding tobacco addiction, testing novel tobacco cessation treatments and exploring ways to make currently marketed tobacco products less toxic, appealing and addictive. 

Full bio

Carrie Haskell-Luevano, PhD
Professor & Associate Department Head

612-626-9262
chaskell@umn.edu

Dr. Haskell-Luevano is the Philip S. Portoghese Endowed Chair in Chemical Neuroscience, Professor Associate Department Head in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry, and an Institute for Translational Neuroscience Scholar. Her research program focuses on the chemical biology of a variety of G protein-coupled receptors, including the opioid receptors. In her lab, projects involving the opioid receptors include the design and synthesis of novel probes and lead compounds, investigating ligand-receptor interactions, and exploring novel receptor signaling domains. By characterizing and modulating opioid receptor pharmacology, her work provides novel tools to probe pain management and advances ligand design strategies for opioid receptor based therapeutics.

Full bio

Suhasa Kodandaramaiah, PhD
Assistant Professor

612-626-6059
suhasabk@umn.edu

Dr. Kodandaramaiah is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Minnesota. His laboratory focuses on engineering neurotechnologies to interface with the brain at multiple spatial and temporal scales. These include robotic tools for single cell recording and manipulation and #d printed polymer implants for large scale neural activity readout and perturbation.

Full bio

Michael Kotlyar, PharmD
Associate Professor

612-625-1160
kotly001@umn.edu

Dr. Kotlyar is an Associate Professor in the Department of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy. His research focuses on evaluating various aspects of tobacco dependence including assessing medications to assist in the smoking cessation attempt and assessing the role of stress on smoking behavior.

Full bio

Amy Krentzman, MSW, PhD
Associate Professor

612-625-2312
akrentzm@umn.edu

Dr. Krentzman is an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota School of Social Work. She studies the phenomenon of addiction recovery and therefore studies recovery-oriented systems of care such as sober living houses, 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, and recovery concepts such as spirituality and gratitude. Dr. Krentzman also designs interventions to support early recovery and prevent relapse. Her current work focuses on "Positive Peer Journaling" which uses a combination of positive psychology and behavioral activation.

Full bio

Esther Krook-Magnuson, PhD
Associate Professor

612-301-7747
ekrookma@umn.edu

Dr. Krook-Magnuson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience. Her work focuses on brain circuitry, including the different types of neurons in the brain and their responsiveness to drugs like opioids.

Full bio

Matt Kushner, PhD
Professor

612-273-9806
kushn001@umn.edu

Dr. Kushner is a Professor of Psychiatry who studies the association of addiction and comorbid psychiatric disorders. His current research, funded by NIAAA, focuses on developing and testing cognitive behavioral treatments that can improve the alcohol use disorder treatment outcomes for individuals with co-occurring anxiety and depressive disorders.

Full bio

Anna Lee, PhD
Associate Professor

612-626-2859
amlee@umn.edu

Dr. Lee is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology. Her research focuses on the mechanisms of alcohol and nicotine co-addiction, and the role of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in mediating alcohol and nicotine addiction. Recent interests also include the abuse liability of electronic cigarettes, and sex differences in nicotinic receptor function. 

Full bio

Mark LeSage, PhD
Professor

612-873-6857
lesag002@umn.edu

Dr. LeSage is a Senior Investigator in the Department of Medicine at the Hennepin Healthcare Research Institute, and Professor in the Department of Medicine and Adjunct Associate Professor in Psychology at the University of Minnesota. His research is primarily focused on the behavioral pharmacology of nicotine and tobacco, with a focus on using nonhuman drug self-administration and other models to address issues related to tobacco harm reduction and FDA regulation of tobacco products. He also employs nonhuman models to study the behavioral pharmacology of other drugs of abuse (cocaine, opioids) and develop immunotherapies (e.g. vaccines, antibodies) and other types of pharmacotherapies to treat drug abuse. 

Full bio

Dezhi Liao, PhD
Associate Professor

612-626-3522
liaox020@umn.edu

The misuse of and addiction to prescribed and illegally obtained opioids has caused a national crisis that affects public health and welfare. Our research is focused upon the structural and functional deficits in dendritic spines caused by neurological diseases and disorders. We found that opioids caused collapse of dendritic spines, which are the fundamental structural units for information storage and processing in the brain. The opioid-induced changes in dendritic spines may contribute to opioid addictions as well as opioid-induced cognitive deficits.

Full bio

Kelvin Lim, MD
Professor

612-626-6772
kolim@umn.edu

Dr. Lim is Professor and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Psychiatry where he holds the Drs. T.J. and Ella M. Arneson Land Grant Chair in Human Behavior. Dr. Lim’s research interest is in the use of neuroimaging approaches to identify circuit abnormalities in brain disorders such as schizophrenia, traumatic brain injury and addiction and then to use these circuits as treatment targets for noninvasive neuromodulation interventions.

Full bio

Monica Luciana, PhD
Professor

612-626-0757
lucia003@umn.edu

Dr. Luciana is a Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the Department of Psychology. Her research examines brain/behavior relationships in adults and children and the neuroplasticity of neural circuitry during development, as a function of substance use, and in the context of psychopathology. Specifically, she is interested in the neurobiology of executive functions that are mediated by the brain's prefrontal cortex, including working memory, planning, and emotional control as well as reward processing and the neural circuits that promote incentive motivation.

Full bio

Robert Meisel, PhD
Professor

612-625-6796
meisel@umn.edu

Dr. Meisel is a Professor in the Department of Neuroscience. A key question addressed by his lab is what makes some people more vulnerable than others to the addictive effects of drugs? One idea he has been testing in an animal model of addiction vulnerability is that the converging neural plasticity of behavioral experience and drug use renders the brain more susceptible to the addictive properties of drugs.

Full bio

Paul Mermelstein, PhD
Professor

612-624-8977
pmerm@umn.edu

Dr. Mermelstein is a Professor in the Department of Neuroscience. His laboratory researches sex differences in the brain. Specifically, how sex hormones (estrogen in females, testosterone in males) alter the synaptic connections in the brain to influence motivated behaviors. He and his team have discovered that when estrogen concentrations rise in females, their vulnerability to abuse addictive drugs increases. They are seeking to determine the mechanisms by which estrogens impart vulnerability to drug addiction, and ways to circumvent these changes in brain plasticity, ultimately in hopes of improving therapeutic interventions.

Full bio

Jessica Nielson, PhD
Assistant Professor

612-624-9469
jnielson@umn.edu

Dr. Nielson is a neurobiologist and data scientist working at the intersection of computer science and psychiatry to understand the neurobiological mechanisms of mental health disorders that underlie addictive behaviors. She brings her expertise in neuroscience, big-data and precision medicine techniques to the group for data-driven discovery of clinically relevant models of addictive behaviors, with an interest in researching and developing novel therapies to treat the root causes of addiction.

Full bio

Laura Palombi, PharmD, MPH, MAT, AE-C
Assistant Professor

218-726-6066
lpalombi@d.umn.edu

Dr. Palombi is an Assistant Professor at the College of Pharmacy in Duluth. She works with rural community members and coalitions to find community-specific solutions to the opioid crisis and to capitalize on community recovery capital. She also works closely with public health, health professions, and harm reduction professionals to increase access to naloxone.

Full bio

Cuong Q. Pham, MD
Assistant Professor

pham0079@umn.edu

Dr. Pham is a physician and Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Medical School. He works clinically as a hospitalist at the University of Minnesota Medical Center and as a primary care physician at the Community University Health Care Center (CUHCC). His work on academic medical education in health equity as well as with the underserved communities in the Twin Cities has led him to focus on Community-Based Participatory Research. His current research is in collaboration with the local urban American Indian community to develop a culturally-centered and family-centered approach to opioid use disorder treatment in primary care settings.

Full bio

Philip Portoghese, PhD
Distinguished Professor

612-624-9174
porto001@umn.edu

The Portoghese Research Group is focused on the design and synthesis of compounds that target opioid receptors, both as pharmacologic tools and as agents for treatment of pain. Novel concepts and approaches are employed for development of analgesics that are highly selective for different types of opioid receptors. 

Full bio

David Redish, PhD
Professor

612-626-3738
redish@umn.edu

Dr. Redish is a Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the Department of Neuroscience. He and his team explore the computational processes that underlie decision-making. His research addresses questions of addiction from the perspective of addiction as dysfunctions in those decision-making processes. His research interests span the neurophysiology of behavior, including computational, experimental, theoretical, and clinical approaches. His laboratory has major research efforts in theoretical explanations of the interactions of multiple decision-making systems, in the neurophysiology of the information processing in those decision-making systems, and in the clinical consequences of dysfunction in those decision-making systems. Through collaborations with other neuroscientists and psychologists translating their novel decision tasks to human populations, and clinicians testing consequences of their proposed explanations for dysfunction, Dr. Redish and his team explore the similarities and differences across species as a means of understanding addiction and its treatment.

Full bio

Charles Reznikoff, MD
Associate Professor

612-873-9780
rezni009@umn.edu

Dr. Reznikoff practices in addiction medicine and is an addiction medicine doctor at Hennepin Healthcare. He is also an associate professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota. He maintains a clinical addiction medicine practice, while he is actively involved in public advocacy and regulatory issues surrounding controlled substances at the state and federal level, including the opioid prescribing workgroup and the governor's medical cannabis task force. He teaches on addiction medicine and opioid prescribing practices at the University of Minnesota Medical and Dental schools.

Full bio

Linda Rinehart, PhD
Assistant Professor

612-273-9823
lskalski@umn.edu

Dr. Rinehart is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in assessment and treatment for individuals with substance use disorders. Dr. Rinehart's research focuses on understanding how cannabis use impacts relapse to alcohol among patients with an alcohol use disorder. She also examines how cannabis use impacts treatment outcomes for mood, anxiety, and other drug use disorders.

Full bio

Patrick Rothwell, PhD
Assistant Professor

612-626-8744
rothwell@umn.edu

Dr. Rothwell is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience. His research lab investigates the synaptic organization and behavioral function of basal ganglia circuits in health and disease. His interests include regulation of these circuits by endogenous opioid signaling, as well as the detrimental effects of chronic exposure to exogenous opioids, with a broad goal of reducing the abuse liability of opioid-based clinical therapies.

Full bio

Mark Sanders
Program Director

612-624-3454
msanders@umn.edu

Mark Sanders is the Program Director of the University Imaging Centers and member of the Medical Discovery Team on Addiction Structural Circuits Center. His efforts in multimodal imaging and sample preparation will help explore large areas of the intact brain at microscopic resolution with a goal to help investigators identify biological pathways that can be targeted to prevent addictive behaviors.

Full bio

Robert J. Schumacher, PhD
Scientific Director, Center for Translational Medicine

612-626-3533
rschumac@umn.edu

Dr. Schumacher is the Scientific Director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Translational Medicine and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology. His research focuses on the preclinical testing and clinical translation of innovative drugs, biologics, cell therapies, and devices. 

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Donald Simone, PhD
Professor & Chair

612-625-6464
simon003@umn.edu

Dr. Simone is a Professor and Chair of the of Department of Diagnostic and Biological Sciences. His lab studies neural mechanisms underlying cancer pain, pain following chemotherapy, and pain associated with sickle cell disease. Studies are primarily focused on neural encoding of pain by primary afferent and spinal cord neurons, biochemical and molecular changes in DRG and spinal cord that contribute to persistent pain, and pharmacological modulation.

Full bio

Sheila Specker, MD
Associate Professor

612-273-9806
speck001@umn.edu

Dr. Specker is an Associate Professor and addiction psychiatrist in the Department of Psychiatry. She is Program Director for the Addiction Medicine Fellowship which trains physicians of all specialties in addiction and co-occurring psychiatric disorders. Her research interests include screening and brief intervention for adolescents at risk for substance use disorder and also is co-investigator on the use of neuroimaging approaches to identify circuit abnormalities in addiction. Pharmacotherapies for the treatment of cocaine use disorder has also been a focus of research.

Full bio

Laura Stone, PhD
Professor

612-422-9880
stone023@umn.edu

Dr. Stone’s research team utilizes both pre-clinical models and patient populations to i) investigate the mechanisms driving low back and musculoskeletal pain, ii) optimize pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments (alone and in combination), iii) understand the impact of chronic pain on the CNS and iv) explore epigenetic regulation of chronic pain. Dr. Stone’s contributions include the development of animal models of low back pain to enable pre-clinical studies, demonstration that attenuating chronic pain can reverse pain-related changes in the CNS and peripheral tissues. The team was also the first to link epigenetic regulation of a single gene to a chronic pain condition in both rodents and humans. The Stone Pain Lab emphasizes studies that contribute towards improved therapeutic strategies for chronic pain that bypass addiction circuits. Dr. Stone is a Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology.

Full bio

Heather Swanson, MD
Assistant Professor

612-467-2228
abbot112@umn.edu

Dr. Swanson works primarily as an Addiction Psychiatrist at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center. She is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Program Director for the Addiction Psychiatry fellowship, and VA Site Director for the University's Addiction Medicine fellowship. In terms of research, she currently serves as Lead Site Investigator in a multicenter clinical trial, entitled "Comparative Effectiveness of Two Formulations of Buprenorphine for Treating Opioid Use Disorder in Veterans (VA-BRAVE)".

Full bio

Stanley Thayer, PhD
Professor

612-626-7049
sathayer@umn.edu

Dr. Thayer is a Professor of Pharmacology. His laboratory studies endocannabinoid signaling. Cannabinoids, analogs of the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, act on receptors that are part of this system. Current studies examine the role of the endocannabinoid system in regulating synaptic transmission, neuroinflammation, and neurotoxicity.

Full bio

Phu Tran, PhD
Assistant Professor

612-626-7964
tranx271@umn.edu

Dr. Tran is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics. His research focuses on the role of epigenetics in long-term effects of early-life adversity on neural development. His lab has been investigating whether opioids exposure during pregnancy alters the epigenetic signatures of the infant’s cord blood stem cells and whether such change can be a determining factor for addictive behaviors in adolescence and adulthood.

Full bio

Scott Vrieze, PhD
Associate Professor

612-626-7569
vrie0006@umn.edu

Dr. Vrieze's lab investigates the etiology of addiction in humans in two ways. He partners with hundreds of investigators around the world to conduct large genetic association studies of millions of people to find genetic variants and genes that protect or predispose to addiction. The ultimate goal of this research is to identify specific biological and psychological risk factors for addiction, leading to novel therapeutics. He also partners with investigators at the Minnesota Center for Twin and Family Research to conduct longitudinal studies of the development of addiction and psychopathology. The goal is to understand the causes and consequences of addiction.

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Lucy Vulchanova, PhD
Associate Professor

612-626-5726
vulch001@umn.edu

Research in the Vulchanova lab is focused on mechanisms underlying persistent pain. Our long-term goal is to contribute to the development of novel non-addictive chronic pain treatments. We are interested in elucidating the spinal circuits that mediate pain signaling, and in the discovery of novel signaling pathways involved in the development and maintenance of chronic pain. We are employing cutting-edge circuit-tracing, functional imaging, and transcriptomic approaches to investigate the organization of spinal pain circuits, and to quantify the contribution of novel signaling mediators (VGF-derived peptides) to chronic pain.

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Michael Walters, PhD
Research Associate Professor

612-626-6864
mwalters@umn.edu

Dr. Walters is a Research Associate Professor in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry. He is also a Director in the Institute for Therapeutics Discovery and Development (ITDD), a full-service drug discovery and development unit within the College of Pharmacy. His research focuses on the synthesis and characterization of novel compounds for the treatment of pain without the abuse liabilities associated with opioids. He is currently collaborating on the development of a compound called MMG22 (Portoghese Laboratory) which shows promise for the non-addictive treatment of cancer pain.

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Kevin Wickman, PhD
Professor & Head of the Department of Pharmacology

612-624-5966
wickm002@umn.edu

Dr. Wickman is a Professor and Department Head of the Department of Pharmacology. His research program seeks to elucidate inhibitory signaling pathways that regulate the excitability of neurons in the reward circuitry. His team's recent efforts have shown that inhibitory G protein-dependent signaling pathways in the ventral tegmental area and prefrontal cortex normally serve to limit addiction-related behaviors evoked by administration of opioids and psychostimulants, but that the influence of these pathways is diminished with repeated drug exposure. They employ intracranial viral genetic and pharmacologic approaches, together with electrophysiological and behavioral analyses, to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the reciprocal relationship between inhibitory signaling pathways in the reward circuitry and drugs of abuse. The premise behind their efforts is that if endogenous inhibitory signaling pathways can be strengthened to prevent their suppression by drugs of abuse, then the risk of addiction in susceptible individuals and/or relapse in recovering addicts might be reduced or prevented.

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George Wilcox, PhD
Professor, Department of Neuroscience

612-625-1474
george@umn.edu

Dr. Wilcox’s current research program has identified the cellular site and molecular mechanism mediating interdrug analgesic synergy in the central and peripheral terminals of nociceptors. His laboratory has most recently been funded to conduct preclinical development of a peripherally restricted, synergistic combination of two opioid agonists that shows high potency in multiple animal models of persistent pain. This analgesic combination manifests none of the troublesome effects of opioids mediated in the CNS, including addiction liability and respiratory depression.

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