No one has been untouched by the events of the last 10 months. Even if not personally confronting illness or the passing of a loved one, we continue to face societal upheaval and personal uncertainty. In coping, we’ve become tech savvy, served as substitute teachers and cut our own hair. However, although optimism is buoyed by the hope of effective vaccines, significant challenges persist. Sadly, many in our communities find themselves facing new or recurring threats to their mental health and well-being. Not surprisingly, early phases of the pandemic were marked by notable increases in alcohol and drug use. The consequences of these shifts will be fully evident only with the passage of time. If ever there was a time to strengthen our resolve as addiction scientists, it is now! The toll on our motivation and optimism is palpable. Yet, as we anticipate 2021, I challenge you to embrace the relevance of your work and I thank you for your commitment to our Center and its efforts to support a vibrant, diverse body of addiction scientists. As you know, our success relies on member engagement and the Annual Symposium is a key example. So, at this time, we are pleased to announce our 2021 Annual Symposium Committee: Dr. Joy Gabrielli, Dr. Erica Levitt, Dr. Barry Setlow (Chair) with affiliate members Neo Gebru, Cassandra Modrak, and Bo Sortman. Our topic, “Risk, Resiliency, & Recovery” could hardly be more timely. (Please check our other updates inside!) Finally, as we reflect on 2020 and gaze into 2021, we hope you will consider contributing to the fiscal health of UF CARE by making a donation, large or small, at this link.

Happy New Year, Stay Safe and See You in 2021. SJN


Dissertation Feature 2020

Applications Now Open: UF CARE Dissertation Aid Grants

UF CARE will award up to 3 Dissertation Aid Grants of up to $7,500.

Note: Only UF CARE Affiliate Members who have completed their qualifying exams may apply. These funds do not support travel or tuition/fees/stipend for trainees.

Grant Submission Deadline: January 18, 2020  


Feature Symposium Save the Date 2021 Symposium 450x302

Save the Date: UF CARE Annual Symposium, April 20, 2021

The 2021 Annual Symposium will be presented via Zoom.  More details to follow... READ MORE »



UF CARE Affiliate Podcast Episode 7: Christian Garcia

UF CARE Podcast Affiliate Episode 7, Christian Garcia, Department of Psychology

Affiliate podcast host Victor Schneider is joined by UF CARE Affiliate Member Christian Garcia, a graduate student of Dr. Sara Jo Nixon, in the UF Department of Psychology. LISTEN NOW »



Liana Hone, PhD, 

Assistant Professor

UF Department of Health Education & Behavior

Dr. Hone joined the UF Department of Health Education & Behavior in the Fall semester.  She was previously at the University at Buffalo (UB), where she was a Research Assistant Professor affiliated with the Clinical and Research Institute on Addictions (CRIA; formerly Research Institute on Addictions). She has received funding from an Individual (F32) Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), National Institutes of Health; and support from an Institutional (T32) NRSA (also from NIAAA) to study targets for substance-related sexual aggression prevention. Prior to joining the CRIA, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Missouri – Columbia, affiliated with the Alcohol Health and Behavior Lab and the Social Cognitive and Addiction Neuroscience Lab. 

She received her BA in Physical Anthropology from the University of California – Santa Barbara, where she worked at the Center of Evolutionary Psychology collecting data on men’s aggression and women’s body fat distribution. She received her MS and Ph.D. with an Emphasis in Evolution and Human Behavior from the University of Miami’s Health Division of Psychology, where she studied college student drinking and sexual attitudes/behaviors. She recently finished her MPH with a Credential in Strategies for Eliminating Health Inequities at UB.  - Faculty Profile 



National Leadership Appointments/Elections:

UF CARE member Dr. Robert Leeman was elected to a four-year term on the APA Board of Convention Affairs and will be serving as Mentoring Subcommittee Chair for the RSA Education Committee in 2020-2021.  Additionally he is now  Associate Director of SHARC.

Grants Funded:

Dr. Qing Lu's grant "A Kernel Neural Network for High-dimensional Genomic Risk Prediction", was selected for funding by the UF Artificial Intelligence Research Catalyst Fund. The project is led by Qing Lu (PI), Yan Gong (Co-PI), and Xiaoxi Shen (Co-PI). It will develop one of the first Neural-Network-based tools that is capable of handling millions of genetic variables and is computationally efficient for large-scale datasets.

Conference / Speaking Engagements:

Dr. Lisa Merlo - Invited panelist. (2020, November 18). Responding to the national opioid epidemic: NIH HEAL and AAMC initiatives. Association of American Medical Colleges Annual Meeting. Livestreamed online due to COVID-19.

Dr. Sara Jo Nixon - International Invited Speaker. (2020, December 11). "Social Drinking Episodes: Impact on Neurobehavior with Age." Simposio Internacional: Neurociencia, Psiquiatria y Salud Mental. 

Dr. Sara Jo Nixon International Invited Speaker. (2020, December). "Aging Social Drinking Episodes: Impact on Neurobehavior with Age" in the symposium "Age and sex determinants for alcohol drinking." Virtual Meeting 2020 of the Latin American Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism (LASBRA): "Neurobiology of Alcohol Use-Disorders."

Upcoming Poster Presentations 

Lee, J., Contrera-Avila, J., Ahluwalia, J. (Appointed; February, 2021). Advice to quit and cessation patterns by race/ethnicity among US adult smokers: Results from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study Wave 4 (2016-2018). 2021 Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT). 

Lee, J., McHugh, R. K. (Appointed; February, 2021). Opioid misuse and cigarette smoking status in US adults: Results from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) 2015-2018. 2021 Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT).  

Lee, J., Thrul, J. (Appointed; February, 2021). Trends in opioid misuse by cigarette smoking status among US adolescents: Results from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2015-2018. 2021 Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT).  

Training Opportunity:

The UCSF Substance Abuse Research Program (SARP) is recruiting applicants for next year’s Learning for Early Careers in Addiction and Diversity (LEAD) Program and requests the assistance of the University of Florida in identifying potential candidates. Flyer here.

LEAD Program Application Deadline: December 30, 2020  

The Learning for Early Careers in Addiction and Diversity (LEAD) Program at UCSF is looking to recruit its seventh cohort of visiting scholars to participate in this 3-year research education training program. The application deadline is December 30, 2020. All qualified early-stage research scientists from underrepresented racial/ethnic backgrounds with a research focus in substance use are highly encouraged to apply. Referrals of specific candidates would be especially appreciated. 

To refer qualified early-stage researchers, please contact the department at or via phone at (628) 206-4453.   

The program recruitment flyer containing further information on eligibility criteria and the application selection process is attached. Additional information can be found at 



(UF CARE Members, Affiliate Members, and Alumni in Bold)

Chaarani, B., Allgaier, N., Hahn, S., ...  Cottler, L.B., ... Nixon, S.J., ... Striley, C., ... & the ABCD Consortium (in press). Brain Function in the Pre-Adolescent Brain: Results from the ABCD Study. Nature Neuroscience.

Domenico, L., DeRemer, C., Nichols, K., Campbell, C., Moreau, J.R., Childs, G.S., & Merlo, L.J. (in press). Combatting The Epidemic Of E-cigarette Use And Vaping Among Students And Transitional-Age Youth. Current Psychopharmacology. [Invited article].

Garman, T. S., Setlow, B., & Orsini, C. A. (in press). Effects of a high-fat diet on impulsive choice in rats. Physiology & Behavior 229: 113260.

Gordon, E.L., Lent, M.L., & Merlo, L.J. (2020). The Effect of Food Composition and Behavior on Neurobiological Response to Food: a Review of Recent Research. Current Nutrition Reports. E-pub ahead of print.  [Invited article] 

Gordon, E.L., Merlo, L.J., Durning, P.E., & Perri, M.G. (2020). Longitudinal changes in food addiction symptoms and body weight among adults in a behavioral weight loss program. Nutrients, 12(12), 3687.

Lee, J., Thompson, L. A., Salloum, R. G. Heated tobacco product use among US adolescents in 2019: The new tobacco risk. (2020). Tobacco Prevention and Cessation. (Accepted). 

Lewis, B., Price, J.L., Garcia, C.C., Ebner, N.C., Nixon, S.J. (in press). The impact of emotional face stimuli on working memory performance among men and women with alcohol use disorder. Addictive Behaviors: 106731.

Movsas, TZ, Gewolb, IH , Paneth, N, Lu, Q, Muthusamy, A. The association between high levels of luteinizing hormone and proliferative retinopathy of prematurity in female preterm infants. Journal of American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus 2020; S1091-8531(20) 30106-3.

Nixon, S.J. & Lewis, B. (2020). Brain Structure and Function in Recovery. Alcohol Research 40(3):04. 

Polles, A.G., Williams, M.K., Phalin, B.R., Teitelbaum, S., & Merlo, L.J. (2020). Neuropsychological impairment associated with substance use by physicians. Journal of the Neurological Sciences 411: 116714. [Invited article]

Sobolev, M., Vitale, R., Wen, H., Kizer, J. Pollack, J.P., Leeman, R. F., Baumel, A., Vadhan, N. P., Estrin, D., & Muench, F. (in press). Digital Marshmallow Test (DMT): Diagnostic and monitoring mHealth app for impulsive behavior. Journal of Medical Internet Research mHealth and uHealth.

Stennett, B, Anderson, M.B., Vitus, D., Ferguson, E., Dallery, J., Alappattu, M., Robinson, M. & Boissoneault, J. (in press). Sex Moderates the Effects of Experimentally Induced Musculoskeletal Pain on Alcohol Demand in Healthy Drinkers. Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Wen, Y & Lu, Q. Multi-kernel linear mixed model with adaptive lasso for complex phenotype prediction. Stat Med. 2020; 39(9):1311-1327.

Williams, M.†, Vitus, D.†, Ferguson, E. Stennett, B., Robinson, M., & Boissoneault, J. (in press). Acute Tolerance to the Analgesic Effects of Alcohol. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. †These authors contributed equally to this work.

Williams, M.K., Greene, W.M., Leitner, S., & Merlo, L.J. (2020). Medical student spirituality and substance use. Journal of Addiction Medicine. [E-pub ahead of print].

Wright, K.N. & Wesson, D.W. (2020). The tubular striatum and nucleus accumbens distinctly represent reward-taking and seeking. Journal of Neurophysiology.