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Advisory Committee Members

Basic Science Network Co-Chairs:


Brandon Henderson, PhD

Brandon Henderson is an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Sciences at the Joan C Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University and Director of the Neuroscience and Developmental Biology Research Cluster. Brandon started his training in nicotine-related research as a graduate student at the Ohio State University in the Division of Pharmacology within the College of Pharmacy. During this period, he concentrated on computational modeling and the design of allosteric ligands for nicotinic receptors to be used for nicotine cessation.


In 2012, after receiving his PhD, Brandon joined the lab of Henry Lester at the California Institute of Technology. There, Brandon was trained in brain slice electrophysiology and microscopy methods that allowed him to identify the neural mechanism that allow menthol to enhance nicotine reward. Upon being awarded a K99/R00 to further study menthol’s role in nicotine addiction, Brandon pursued additional training in the labs of Drs. Nii Addy and Marina Picciotto at Yale University. In 2017, Brandon joined the faculty at Marshall University where he continues his research on the mechanisms by which tobacco flavors alter nicotine reward and reinforcement.

Sven-Eric Jordt, PhD

Sven-Eric Jordt is Associate Professor of Anesthesiology, Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke University School of Medicine, teaches in Duke University’s Program of Environmental Health and Toxicology and is Associate Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine. He is founding member of the Yale Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (TCORS) and the Duke Center of Translational Pain Medicine (CTPM).

Sven trained as a biochemist at the Free University of Berlin and continued with doctoral studies on brain and lung chloride channels in Hamburg, receiving his Ph.D. in 1997. From 1998-2004 he trained as a postdoctoral scholar at UCSF, where he contributed to breakthrough discoveries in pain and chemosensation research by identifying TRP ion channels as receptors for painful natural products. Studies on the cold/menthol receptor, TRPM8, provided insights into the mechanisms that enable animals to sense temperature.

In 2005, Sven joined the faculty of the Department of Pharmacology at Yale School of Medicine where he identified TRPA1 as the sensory irritant receptor for acrolein, the major noxious aldehyde in cigarette smoke. TRPA1 also functions as a mechanistic link between toxicant exposures and allergic conditions such as asthma. Studies on the cigarette flavor additive, menthol, revealed that menthol suppresses respiratory irritation responses to cigarette smoke and increases nicotine intake. 

After relocating to Duke University in 2014 he continued his research on flavor chemicals in tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, revealing the powerful behavioral effects of these compounds leading to addiction. The Jordt lab identified novel reaction products in electronic cigarettes with concerning toxicological properties.

Among other awards, Sven received the 2006 Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) Award by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the 2007 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), and the 2019 Leading Edge in Basic Science Award by the Society of Toxicology. 


Basic Science Network Advisory Committee:

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. 
Adriaan Bruijnzeel, PhD


Dr. Adriaan Bruijnzeel is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Florida. Dr. Bruijnzeel earned his Ph.D. at the University of Utrecht in The Netherlands in 2001. He then did a 2-year postdoc at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego under the supervision of Dr. Athina Markou. During his postdoc, he studied the neurobiological mechanisms that mediate the reinforcing effects of nicotine. In 2004, Dr. Bruijnzeel joined the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Florida. Dr. Bruijnzeel is interested in the mechanisms that drive high levels of nicotine self-administration and contribute to withdrawal-induced anhedonia and anxiety-like behavior in rats. He also studies the long-term effects of tobacco smoke exposure on the brain. He conducts studies to determine if decreasing the nicotine content in cigarettes diminishes the rewarding effects of smoking and prevents the development of dependence in rats.
 Shannon Kozlovich


Shannon Kozlovich is finishing her PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences at Washington State University and is transitioning into a post-doc fellowship with the University of California San Francisco Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. Her thesis research was on the impact of genotype and menthol on tobacco toxicity and carcinogenic effects. Shannon is interested in continuing tobacco research with projects that include tobacco dual use with marijuana and/or the use of tobacco during hormone replacement therapy within gender minority populations.


Basic Science Trainee Task Force:

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 adulthoo d.
 Miranda Fisher

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