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Advisory Committee Members

Basic Science Network Co-Chairs:

 

Christie D. Fowler, PhD

Dr. Christie Fowler is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at the University of California, Irvine. She earned her PhD from Florida State University and completed postdoctoral training at The Scripps Research Institute. Dr. Fowler's interests are centered on elucidating the neurobiological mechanisms underlying motivated behaviors. Recently, she found that nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the medial habenula-interpeduncular pathway control the aversive effects of nicotine and thereby limit consumption of the drug. Her current research seeks to further define the neurobiological mechanisms underlying nicotine reinforcement, with an underlying goal of identifying novel targets for therapeutic development.

 

Jill Turner, PhD

Dr. Jill Turner is an Assistant Professor in the SC College of Pharmacy Department of Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences at the University of South Carolina and the Medical University of South Carolina. Her research investigates the genomic alterations resulting from chronic nicotine administration and withdrawal using Next Next-Gen sequencing and how these changes impact both behavior and concordant transcriptionally-driven circuitry adaptations. These altered preclinical genomic targets serve as candidates for SNP analysis in the smoking population. Dr. Turner earned her PhD with Dr. Ken Kellar at Georgetown University and completed post-doctoral training with Dr. Julie Blendy at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Nicotine Addiction (CIRNA), University of Pennsylvania.

Advisory Committee Members:

 

Rick Bevins, PhD

Dr. Rick Bevins is Willa Cather Professor and Chair of Psychology at the University of Nebraska. He earned his Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Behavior from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 1993, and then completed a three-year postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Bardo at the University of Kentucky. One arm of his research program investigates how behavioral and neuropharmacological processes involved in the perceptibility of the nicotine stimulus, and the behavior it controls, changes with learning; recent research implicates α4β2-containing nAChRs and the dorsal medial striatum. Other empirical efforts focus on the reward-enhancing effects of nicotine, nicotine-alcohol interaction, and sex differences. 

 

M. Imad Damaj, PhD

Dr. M. Imad Damaj is Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology at Virginia Commonwealth University.  Dr. Damaj earned his Ph.D. in Pharmacology in 1991 from the University of Paris XI, France and completed his post-doctoral training with Dr. Billy R. Martin at VCU.  The major emphasis of Dr. Damaj’s research is directed toward understanding the role of neuronal nicotinic in CNS function and behavior (mainly drug abuse and pain) using newly developed nicotinic ligands and various mouse genetic approaches. The neuronal molecular and behavioral mechanisms involved in nicotine reward and withdrawal are of particular emphasis.   Finally, Dr. Damaj’s lab has a particular interest in probing the role of the neuronal nicotinic receptors play in the transmission of acute and chronic neuropathic pain. Currently, his work focuses also on the impact of nicotine exposure in adolescence on drug dependence. 

 

Cassandra D. Gipson-Reichardt, PhD

Dr. Cassandra Gipson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Arizona State University. She earned her PhD from the University of Kentucky and completed postdoctoral training at the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Gipson’s research interests are based on understanding neurobehavioral substrates underlying nicotine addiction, with a focus on cue-triggered motivation and conditioned reinforcement. Recently, she found that cue-induced nicotine seeking is associated with rapid, transient plasticity that is modulated by GluN2B receptors and glial glutamate transport in the nucleus accumbens. Currently, her research is designed to further uncover neurobiological mechanisms underlying nicotine addiction and relapse, with an overarching goal of promoting nicotine use cessation and new pharmacotherapeutic development. Dr. Gipson serves as the Operations Coordinator for the Basic Science Network.

 

Suzi Gage, PhD

Suzi Gage is a post-doctoral researcher at the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol, UK. She completed her PhD in 2014 at the University of Bristol, investigating associations between cigarette and cannabis use and mental health in a large birth cohort. Her current research focuses on using genetic epidemiology and other study designs to aid causal inferences about associations between lifestyle behaviors and mental health. She has a particular interest in untangling the associations seen between cigarette smoking and schizophrenia.

 

Paul T. Harrell, PhD

Dr. Paul Harrell is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Community Health and Research at Eastern Virginia Medical School. He earned his Ph.D. at American University in Washington, D.C. and completed postdoctoral fellowships at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Moffitt Cancer Center. His research has involved human laboratory, clinical, and epidemiological research examining cognition, drug perception, and population-level differences. His current program of research focuses on reducing the harm related to tobacco use by better understanding tobacco product perception and how product perception relates to decision-making processes about tobacco products including electronic nicotine delivery systems.

 

Annie Kleykamp, PhD

Dr. Bethea (Annie) Kleykamp is a Scientist at the health-care consulting firm, PinneyAssociates, where she applies her medical writing skills across multiple content areas (e.g., tobacco harm minimization, prescription to over-the-counter switch, risk management and abuse liability support for psychoactive substances).  She earned her PhD at Virginia Commonwealth University and completed postdoctoral training at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Intramural Program of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Her primary interests take science from the laboratory into more applied settings with the ultimate goal of positively impacting human health and healthcare decisions.  

 

Jason A. Oliver, PhD

Dr. Jason Oliver is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University, an Associate Member of the Duke Cancer Institute and affiliate faculty at the Duke Brain Imaging and Analysis Center. He has experience conducting research across a variety of modalities, including human laboratory studies, clinical trials and policy research. His current research focuses on understanding the neurobiological and behavioral consequences of nicotine withdrawal and the development of novel smoking cessation interventions.


Vaughan Rees, PhD 

Dr. Vaughan Rees is lecturer on Social and Behavioral Sciences and Interim Director of the Center for Global Tobacco Control at Harvard School of Public Health. His research addresses the intersection of tobacco product design, potential for dependence, product use and individual risk, and control of tobacco harms through policy and other interventions. Dr. Rees established the Tobacco Research Laboratory at HSPH, where biobehavioral and cognitive research among tobacco users, and product physical design analyses are conducted. Dr. Rees trained at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and did postdoctoral training through the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


 Laura Rupprecht, PhD

Dr. Laura Rupprecht is a post-doctoral associate at Yale University working with Dr. Nii Addy. She earned her PhD in 2017 at the University of Pittsburgh with Dr. Alan Sved and Dr. Eric Donny studying the relationship between nicotine and body weight, with specific focus on nicotine reduction policy. Dr. Rupprecht’s current work focuses on the effect of flavors on nicotine related-behaviors and reward.

 

Heath D. Schmidt, PhD

Dr. Heath Schmidt is an Assistant Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Psychiatry and the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Schmidt earned a PhD in pharmacology and biomedical neurosciences from the Boston University School of Medicine in 2006 and completed a post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Ron Duman at Yale University in 2008. Dr. Schmidt's current research aims to identify drug-induced neuroadaptations that promote drug-taking and drug-seeking behaviors. Specifically, Dr. Schmidt and his research team are investigating the neurobiological mechanisms underlying nicotine self-administration and the reinstatement of nicotine seeking in rodents, an animal model of smoking relapse. 


Jerry A. Stitzel, PhD

Dr. Jerry Stitzel is Associate Professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology and Faculty Fellow in the Institute for Behavioral Genetics at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He earned his PhD in Biology from Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Stitzel's research focuses on genetic strategies to identify the underlying biological bases for the behavioral and physiological actions of drugs of abuse with special emphasis on nicotine. His current work seeks to understand at a molecular level how genetic variability, particularly with respect to nicotinic receptor genes, influences risk for drug dependence and co-morbid psychiatric disorders.

Trainee Task Force:

 

 
Paul T. Harrell, PhD
Dr. Paul Harrell is a post-doctoral fellow in Behavioral Oncology at Moffitt Cancer Center. He earned his Ph.D. in Behavior, Cognition, and Neuroscience from American University in Washington, D.C. His research has involved human laboratory, clinical, and epidemiological research examining cognition, drug perception, and population-level differences. Dr. Harrell’s previous work at Johns Hopkins and the National Institute of Drug Abuse examined cigarette smoking among cocaine and opioid users.  His current program of research focuses on reducing the harm related to tobacco use by better understanding tobacco product perception and how product perception relates to decision-making processes by tobacco users

Valeria Lallai, PhD

Dr. Valeria Lallai is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the laboratory of Dr. Christie Fowler in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at the University of California, Irvine. She earned her PhD at the University of Cagliari with Dr. Laura Dazzi studying the influence of animal models of stress on mesolimbic dopaminergic circuit function, with specific focus on the predisposition of addiction. Dr. Lallai's current interests are focused on neurogenetic mechanisms underlying nicotine addiction.

 

Theresa Patten

Theresa Patten is a graduate student in the lab of Dr. Mariella De Biasi at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. She is using a mouse model to study the effect of sweet flavorants on the rewarding properties of nicotine using e-cigarette vapor and nicotine in drinking water. She is particularly interested in how flavors might make nicotine more rewarding and/or palatable to adolescents, who are still undergoing a critical stage of neurodevelopment. Therefore, she plans to study the long-term effects of adolescent e-cigarette vapor exposure on behaviors related to cognition, memory, and addiction in adulthood.

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