Mark Thomas, PhD
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.
Arif Hamid, PhD
★ Newly Hired
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
Lauren Slosky, PhD
Assistant Professor★ Newly Hired
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.
Sarah Heilbronner, PhD
Dr. Heilbronner is an Associate Professor at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Heilbronner co-leads the SCC with Dr. Mermelstein and with assistance from the director of the University of Minnesota's Imaging Center, Dr. Mark Sanders, and the Associate Director of the UMN Informatics Institute, Dr. Thomas Pengo.
Alexander Herman, MD, PhD
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.
Anna Zilverstand, PhD
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.
Jan Zimmermann, PhD
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.
Alik Widge, MD, PhD
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.
Jocelyn Richard, PhD
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.
Benjamin Saunders, PhD
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.
Steven Graves, PhD
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.
Sade Spencer, PhD
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.
Julia Lemos, PhD
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.
Mustafa al'Absi, PhD
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.
Justin Anker, PhD
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.
Alfonso Araque, PhD
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.
Gavin Bart, MD, PhD
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.
Miles Belgrade, MD
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.
Angela Birnbaum, PhD, FAES
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.
Jazmin Camchong, PhD
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.
Marilyn Carroll-Santi, PhD
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.
Wei Chen, PhD
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.
Zhe Chen, PhD
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.
Timothy Ebner, MD, PhD
Professor and Head, Department of Neuroscience
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.
Damien Fair, PA-C, PhD
Professor, Department of Pediatrics
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.
Carolyn Fairbanks, PhD
Professor, College of Pharmacy
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.
Brenna Greenfield, PhD
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.
Nicola Grissom, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology
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.
Andrew Harris, PhD
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.
Dorothy Hatsukami, PhD
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.
Carrie Haskell-Luevano, PhD
Professor & Associate Department Head
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.
Suhasa Kodandaramaiah, PhD
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.
Michael Kotlyar, PharmD
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.
Amy Krentzman, MSW, PhD
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.
Esther Krook-Magnuson, PhD
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.
Matt Kushner, PhD
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.
Anna Lee, PhD
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.
Mark LeSage, PhD
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.
Dezhi Liao, PhD
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.
Kelvin Lim, MD
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.
Monica Luciana, PhD
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.