Friends and Colleagues-

The holiday season is upon us—ALREADY.  The contrast between 2020 and 2021 holiday seasons lies almost beyond description.  We’ve learned much about viral transmissions, aerosols and mRNA vaccines.  We have also been confronted with the continuing realities of inequity and stigma.  As addiction scientists, we are reminded that stigma and inequity are ubiquitous, not only at the level of societal and structural systems, but also, in our fields of study. Psychiatric disorders, including substance use disorder, are historically stigmatized and stigmatization impedes science, treatment development, and access to quality care.  Unfortunately, we have likely perpetuated the problem, albeit often inadvertently, through the language we invoke when discussing substance use disorders. Dr. John Kelly and his colleagues have long called for attention to this issue. Recently, the Directors of NIAAA, NIDA, and NIMH reviewed the impact of stigmatizing language, and offered alternatives. I encourage us to thoughtfully consider these papers and revisit our own recent work. I found it can be humbling. The URLs to some of these resources are provided at the end of the newsletter. Here, we also announce the awardees of our Fall “travel” awards!  We are proud of the fact that despite the inability to network F2F, our affiliate members are highly productive and committed to their science and the field.  See more inside!   Finally, thanks to all of you who support UF CARE- we appreciate your contributions of time, energy, and financial donations- our continued success depends on them!   SJN


Sara Jo Nixon Ph.D.

Dr. Sara Jo Nixon receives 2021 Exemplary Teacher Award

Sara Jo Nixon, Ph.D., is a proud recipient of the University of Florida, College of Medicine, 2021 Exemplary Teacher Award. This annual award recognizes the top 10% faculty in the College of Medicine and is selected based on demonstrated excellence teaching excellence of medical students, residents and fellows, graduate students, physician assistant students, post-doctoral fellows, and mentorship of junior faculty.


Linda B Cottler, PhD, MPH, FACE

Dr. Linda Cottler Receives Rema Lapouse Award

Linda B. Cottler, Ph.D., M.P.H., FACE  received the Rema Lapouse Award from the Mental Health, Epidemiology and Applied Statistics sections of the American Public Health Association for her exceptional scientific contributions in the study of the “epidemiology and control of mental disorders.” Visit APHA to learn more about...



Interventions to improve alcohol-related comorbidities along the gut-brain axis in persons with HIV infection

Dr. Robert Cook received a new P01 grant, Interventions to improve alcohol-related comorbidities along the gut-brain axis in persons with HIV infection (P01AA029543 ).  The proposal will support clinical trials to evaluate three interventions intended to improve health outcomes in persons with HIV who drink alcohol: transcutaneous Vagus nerve stimulation, gut probiotics, and novel contingency management to help reduce alcohol consumption.  Several additional UF faculty have key roles in the project including Robert Leeman (Health Education & Behavior), Jesse Dallery (Psychology), Yan Wang (Epidemiology).  The team also received a U24 biomedical data repository grant Southern HIV and Alcohol Research Consortium Biomedical Data Repository (U24AA029959 Wu/Cook MPI), and will partner with FSU on another P01 grant focusing on younger persons with HIV SHARE Program: Innovations in Translational Behavioral Science to Improve Self-management of HIV and Alcohol Reaching Emerging adults, (P01AA029547 Naar/MacDonell MPI).  Together, these three grants will include over $16 million in NIAAA funding over 5 years.


Evaluating the Effects of the Bar Outreach Project in North Carolina Receives Supplement Award

The CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control awarded Dr. Nichole Scaglione and her team a $50,000 supplement to use an evidence-based approach to ensure measures and research procedures for larger study (CDC/NCIPC U01 CE003216Dr. Nichole Scaglione, Multiple PI) are inclusive and representative of experiences reported by young adults who identify with a sexual and/or gender minority.


Addiction Scientist Position at UF

The Department of Psychiatry at UF is seeking to fill a new faculty position with a dynamic clinical addiction scientist. We are hoping that you might participate in this search by sharing this position (https://facultyjobs.hr.ufl.edu/posting/94383) to those who might be interested and those who might know qualified candidates or, if appropriate, consider the position yourself!  

If you have general inquiries, please do not respond to the UF CARE email address or website. Instead, please direct general questions to Shelly Chang (chang.a@ufl.edu) who is providing administrative support for the position. If I can provide clarification, please reach out to me  (sjnixon@ufl.edu).


Have You Begun ‘Gray Area’ Drinking During the Pandemic? How to Know

Dr. Robert Leeman along with other alcohol researchers are quoted in this article posted by Healthline.

Many people in the United States may be drinking more alcohol as a way of dealing with the stress and disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, suggest several surveys.

Some may even have slipped into “gray area” drinking — that realm between healthy levels of alcohol consumption and a diagnosed alcohol use disorder.

Read More»

Newly Posted Podcasts

Podcast Episode 16 Erica Levitt Feature

UF CARE Podcast Episode 16: Dr. Erica Levitt, Pharmacology & Therapeutics

https://youtu.be/JcuOE5wftY4 UF CARE Member Erica Levitt, Ph.D. joins podcast host Dr. Oliver Grundmann for this our 16th installment of the UF CARE Podcast. Read about Dr. Levitt's work here.


Marilyn Horta Podcast

UF CARE Podcast Affiliate Episode 13: Dr. Marilyn Horta, Department of Psychology

UF CARE Affiliate Member Marilyn Horta, Ph.D. joins Affiliate  podcast host Victor Schneider for our 13th Affiliate installment of the UF CARE Podcast. Dr. Horta is in her second year as postdoctoral through the NIDA T32 Training Program under the mentorship of Dr. Roger Fillingim. - Learn more about the NIDA T32 training.



Dr. Tristan Hynes, Posdoctoral Associate, Mentor: Lori Knackstedt Ph.D., Psychology

Samantha Rakela, Graduate Student, Mentor: Brandon Warren Ph.D., Pharmacodynamics

If you are a UF CARE faculty member and are working with outstanding trainees in addiction science- click here—to nominate them for membership.


UF CARE Fall 2021 Travel Awardees presenting at several national/international meetings. 

Dr. Mojdeh Faraji, Amy Alleyne, Wonn Pyon, Sabrina Zequeira will virtually present at the Neuroscience 2021 conference.

Dr. Katherine Wright, Natalie Johnson, Courtney Wilkinson, Cassandra Modrak will present the 2022 Winter Conference of Brain Research conference in Snowmass, Colorado.

Neo Gebru will present at The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico.


Invited Lectures/Presentations

Invited seminar speaker, Dr. Barry SetlowTransatlantic Systems Neuroscience Seminar, hosted by the Nencki Institute in Poland (postponed till 2022)

Invited seminar speaker, Dr. Barry Setlow, UC Irvine Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory seminar series, Feb. 1, 2022

Invited symposium presentation, Dr. Sara Jo NixonEuropean Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism (ESBRA), Oct. 9, 2021


Upcoming/Recent Symposia

Cance, J. D., Saavedra, L., Wondimu, B., Scaglione, N. M., Hairgrove, S., & Graham, P. W. (2021, October). Understanding the relationship between social connection and opioid misuse: A systematic review of the literature. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association, virtual conference.

Lowe, A., Scaglione, N. M., Kan, M. L., Morgan, J. K., Nelson, J., Eckhoff, R. P., Charm, S., Lane, M. E., Pound, L., & Root, M. (2021, September). Moving toward a solution for tailored sexual assault prevention: An example in the US military. Paper presented at the National Discussion on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at America’s Colleges, Universities, and Service Academies. U.S. Air Force Academy, virtual conference.

Nicole Fitzgerald, BA, Stephen Mike, MS, Nae Won, MPH, Bhavin Soni, MS, Joseph Palamar, PhD, MPH, Catherine Striley, PhD, MSW, MPE and Linda Cottler, PhD, MPH, FACE (2021, October) Emergency medical services (EMS) key informants report increased heroin and fentanyl-related EMS visits in the United States from start of the COVID-19 pandemic to spring 2021. Poster-Session presented at the American Public Health Association (APHA) 2021 Annual Meeting & Expo. 


Other Highlights

Drs. Liana Hone and Robert Leeman are the incoming co-editors of the alcohol section in the journal Current Addiction Reports.

UF Office of Strategic Communications & Marketing awarded Dr. Robert Leeman the Provost’s Research Promotion Award for the upcoming article. A combined laboratory and field test of a smartphone breath alcohol device and blood alcohol content estimator to facilitate moderate drinking among young adults. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. Leeman, R. F., Berey, B. L., Frohe, T., Rowland, B. H. P., Martens, M. P., Fucito, L. M., Stellefson, M., Nixon, S. J., & O’Malley, S. S. (in press).  (Authors in bold are current members, alumni or advisors to UF CARE).

Dr. Mojdeh Faraji (postdoctoral fellow) and Wonn Pyon (graduate trainee) in Drs. Barry Selow and Jen Bizon’s laboratory received Trainee Professional Development Awards from the Society for Neuroscience to attend and present their work (virtually) at the Annual Meeting of SfN.


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

Cance, J. D., Saavedra, L., Wondimu, B., Scaglione, N. M., Hairgrove, S., & Graham, P. W. (In Press). Examining the relationship between social connection and opioid use: A systematic review. Substance Use & Misuse, 56(10), 1493-1507.

Close, C., Elek, E., Roberts, C. A., Clarke, T., Scaglione, N. M., Palen, L. A. & Graham, P. W. (2021). A national cost analysis of community interventions to prevent underage drinking and prescription drug misuse. Prevention Science, online first, 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11121-021-01229-4

Schwendt M, Knackstedt LA. Extinction vs. Abstinence: A Review of the Molecular and Circuit Consequences of Different Post-Cocaine Experiences. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jun 6;22(11):6113. doi: 10.3390/ijms22116113. PMID: 34204090; PMCID: PMC8200945.

Wilkinson, C. S., Blount, H., Knackstedt, L., & Schwendt, M. (2021). Investigation of individual differences in stress susceptibility and drug-seeking in an animal model of SUD/PTSD comorbidity. Methods for Preclinical Research in Addiction. [in press]

Logan, C., Rojas, G., Wilkinson, C. S., Polo, A. K., Reichel, C. M., Peris, J., & Knackstedt, L. A. (2021). Systemic oxytocin increases glutamate efflux in the nucleus accumbens core of cocaine-experienced male and female rats but only increases dopamine efflux in males. Behavioral Brain Research. [in press]

Waddell, J. T., Corbin, W. R., & Leeman, R. F. (in press). Differential effects of UPPS-P impulsivity on subjective alcohol response and craving: An experimental test of acquired preparedness. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, doi: 10.1037/pha0000524.

León F, Obeng S, Mottinelli M, Chen Y, King TI, Berthold EC, Kamble SH, Restrepo LF, Patel A, Gamez-Jimenez LR, Lopera-Londoño C, Hiranita T, Sharma A, Hampson AJ, Canal CE, McMahon LR, McCurdy CR. Activity of Mitragyna speciosa ("Kratom") Alkaloids at Serotonin Receptors. J Med Chem. 2021 Sep 23;64(18):13510-13523. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.1c00726. Epub 2021 Sep 1. PMID: 34467758.

Dick, A. S., Silva, K., Gonzalez, R., Sutherland, M. T., Laird, A. R., Thompson, W. K., Tapert, S. F., Squeglia, L. M., Gray, K. M., Nixon, SJ., Cottler, L. B., La Greca, A. M., Gurwitch, R. H., & Comer, J. S. (2021). Neural vulnerability and hurricane-related media are associated with posttraumatic stress in youth. Nature Human Behavior.

Areas of Special Interest


CDC Updates Alcohol Facts and Statistics

CDC releases up-to-date statistics on alcohol consumption.



Telehealth and eHealth for Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorder during the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond

November 3, 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. ET

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on public health and well-being. Alcohol misuse, a significant public health concern, not only has the potential to further complicate the pandemic, but the pandemic may be driving increased alcohol misuse.

This webinar will focus on how treatments for the full spectrum of alcohol use disorders have been adapted to COVID-19 mitigation efforts—in particular the use of tele-health and digital therapeutics—and discuss what elements of these eHealth interventions should remain once the pandemic is under control.

This webinar is sponsored by the Friends of National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)Dr. Nixon represents UF as a member of the Executive Committee for Friends of NIAAA. This webinar is sponsored by the Friends of NIAAA. REGISTER HERE»