February 2022 Newsletter


Seriously, even ignoring the horrible drama playing out on the international stage, does it seem that the world is trying to recover lost time?  That time we spent moaning about being stuck at home, watching Tiger King, and eating avocado toast for breakfast… replaced with uncooperative drivers, missed deadlines and “opportunities” for learning through revisions and resubmissions.  While unknowns remain and stress abounds, moving into the “endemic” phase (more or less) permits re-connecting both personally and professionally.  This issue highlights successful collaborations, successful mentor-mentee relationships, and opportunities through the upcoming UF CARE Annual Symposium and the Call for Travel Awards.  It also presents the results of our Newsletter Survey. EVEN if the survey was somehow lost in your inbox- have a look at the outcomes. [Meagan did a great job on the charts!]  Finally, we are looking forward to having you be a part of the Annual Symposium. If you haven’t registered yet, please do.  We have adjusted our programming this year. In addition to the short talks given by senior trainees/junior faculty from UF and our collaborating institutions, and the exceptional keynote speakers, and the roundtables addressing career development issues, we’ve restructured the previous poster sessions as data blitzes, and we are very excited that one of our lunchtime workgroup/roundtables will highlight addiction science programs at collaborating institutions across the state.  It will be a great day- Looking forward to “seeing you”-


PS- I never watched Tiger King.  I did eat a lot of avocado toast. And I “bumped” the rear fender of a car in a parking lot the other day.  It was humiliating.


Monthly Seminars and Recordings

March 23, 2022 at 11:00am

David Belin, PhD
Professor of Behavioural Neuroscience
Department of Psychology
University of Cambridge

Harriet de Wit PhD headshot

Recorded Seminar 2/16: Dr. Harriet De Wit, Professor, University of Chicago, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience

"Challenges in Conducting Translational Research in Addiction” Harriet De Wit, PhD Professor University of Chicago Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience Click here to watch recorded UF CARE seminar


Katherine Wright flyer

UF CARE Podcast Affiliate Episode 16: Katherine Wright, PhD, Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics

UF CARE Affiliate Member Dr. Katherine Wright joins Affiliate host Victor Schneider for our 16th Affiliate installment of the UF CARE Podcast. Dr. Wright is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics under the mentorship of Dr. Daniel Wesson.


Newly Funded Projects

Dr. Sara Jo Nixon (PI) and Drs. Ben Lewis and Jeff Boissoneault (Co-Is) R01 Determining the Longer-term Impact of COVID-19 Stressors, Alcohol Use and Neurobiobehavioral Decline in Older Adults Through Prospective Study has been awarded by the NIAAA. (R01AA030188-01, anticipated award total: $1.12 million, award period: 2/2022-1/2025) The goal of this project is to clarify the interactive effects of COVID-19 biopsychosocial stressors, alcohol use and neurobiobehavioral decline in drinkers aged 65-75 of both majority and minority race/ethnicity by applying a multi-method/multi-modal approach, to ascertain alcohol use patterns, psychological stressors, neurophysiology and cognitive function across a 3 year period.


Dr. Nikhil Urs, R21 Role of Dopamine receptor-expressing cortical projection circuits in cognitive flexibility has been awarded by the NIH. The goal of the project is to dissect the functional role of these distinct dopamine receptor cortico-striatal circuits by using an interdisciplinary approach (pharmacology, neuron tracing, behavior and fiber photometry) to test the central hypothesis that distinct topographically-organized D2R+ or D1R+ PFC subcircuits differentially regulate cognitive flexibility and striatal dopamine.


Dr. Yan Wang (PI) and Drs. Robert Cook, Zhigang Li, Rene Przkora and Kimberly Sibille (Co-Is) R01 Real-Time and Long-Term Effects of Medical Marijuana on Older Adults: A Prospective Cohort Study has been awarded by the NIA. (R01AG071729, anticipated award total: $2.94 million, award period: 02/2022-11/2026). The goal of this project is to build a prospective cohort that innovatively combines technology-based ecological momentary assessments (EMA) and in-person visits over 12 months to obtain both subjective and objective data on medical marijuana’s (MM) short- and long-term effects on older adult with chronic pain. 



Andrew Moore, in Dr. Sara Jo Nixon's Neurocognitive Laboratory was selected for the Toffler Leadership award. The Toffler Leadership award was created by funding from the Karen Toffler Charitable Trust for Neuroscience Research and Education Fund to the McKnight Brain institute.



Dr. Mojdeh Faraji, post-doctoral fellow in Dr. Barry Setlow's laboratory, received a travel award from the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society to attend the Annual Meeting of the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society in Glasgow, Scotland in June 2022 where she will be speaking in a symposium



Amy Alleyne in Dr. Jay McLaughlin's Laboratory, was awarded the Millard Award for best oral presentation by a Graduate Student – Senior Basic Science Division in the College of Pharmacy 35th Research Showcase on Feb. 8th, 2022.

man with dark brown hair wearing a blue and white checkered dress shirt

Marcelo Febo in UF Research 2021 Annual Report

UF CARE member Marcelo Febo PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, University of Florida, was in the UF Research 2021 Annual Report, highlighting innovative research at UF using Artificial Intelligence and machine learning. He was quoted in the report “One of the limitations on research in Alzheimer’s disease is not having the computing power for the machine learning … The computational power we need makes it advantageous to be doing this work at UF.”



Congratulations Drs. Boissoneault, Lewis, and Nixon for having the top cited article over last 3 years in Alcohol Journal!

Boissoneault J, Lewis B, & Nixon SJ. (2019). Characterizing chronic pain and alcohol use trajectory among treatment-seeking alcoholics. Alcohol. 75: 47-54. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.alcohol.2018.05.009

Upcoming Events and Deadlines 

College of Medicine Research Day

April 6, 2022
4:00 - 8:30pm
Stephen C. O'Connell Center

For more information visit: researchaffairs.med.ufl.edu/news-events/2022-com-research-day/


Reducing Stigma Around Alcohol Use Disorder in Minority Communities 


The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) presents an informative and interactive free webinar.

"Reducing Stigma Around Alcohol Use Disorder in Minority Communities"
Monday, March 21, 2022
1:00–2:15 p.m. EDT

To view the webinar on NIH Videocast, please visit: https://videocast.nih.gov/watch=44317.

Please RSVP to dana.west@icf.com by Friday, March 18.


2022 Spring UF CARE Conference / Meeting (Travel) Awards

Deadline: March 16, 2022 This award cycle is for conferences taking place through August 2022.  There will be a separate call for award applications for conferences taking place after August 2022. Note: You may only receive conference awards totaling $750 per academic year cycle (August 1, 2021 - July 30, 2022).  If you apply and are awarded for a Spring …


Newsletter Survey Results

Remember that Survey???

Several weeks ago we sought your input on the newsletter through a very brief survey. Although the outcomes can’t be interpreted as anything other than a snapshot of the total readership (about 10% response rate), we wanted to share them. If you take the time to complete a survey, don’t you want to know what happened?

The chart below shows that respondents were a mix of full members and affiliates with a small percentage of responses coming from colleagues on campus who are not UF CARE members. 

Our first question asked about your frequency of opening the newsletter. Perhaps not surprising given respondent bias, 76% of you said “almost always”; while 24% said “occasionally”. No one reported never!  [Regardless of bias- we were happy.]

We also asked what aspects of the newsletter you perused first.  As shown here: the majority read it “front to back” with the largest minority of readers “looking for upcoming events”, whereas a smaller percentage searched for “new grants/awards”. The remainder either looked for reference of their trainees’ or their own work or reported they didn’t open it (rather odd since no one reported never opening the newsletter in the earlier question).

We also asked you to suggest ways we might improve. Thanks for taking the time to think about this issue. - we were rather pleased that only one of the 68 comments suggested we produce the newsletter less frequently!! In PIECHART 3, you’ll see a breakdown of suggestions.   

As I hope you’ll notice, we are in the process of implementing many of these suggestions- and thank you again.  That said, please let us know if you have additional ideas. We want you to continue to look forward to reading the UF CARE Newsletter! 

Newly Selected Affiliate Members

Congratulations to the 16 new UF CARE affiliate members!  

Sharmagh Aghabeigi, Graduate Student – Dr. Boissoneault Laboratory – Department ofClinical & Health Psycholog
Christian Cordon-Cano, Undergraduate Student – Dr. Nixon Laboratory – Department of Psychology
Mackenzie Farkas, Undergraduate Student – Dr. Lewis Laboratory – Department of Public Health & Health Professions
Ivy Fitzsimons, Undergraduate Student – Dr. Nixon Laboratory – Department of Psychology
Marco Funez, Graduate Student – Dr. Boissoneault Laboratory – Department of Clinical & Health Psychology
Griffin Heckler, Undergraduate Student – Dr. Lewis Laboratory – College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Jake LeClaire, Undergraduate Student – Dr. Nixon Laboratory – Department of Microbiology and Cell Science
Eduardo Mejia, Undergraduate Student – Dr. Nixon Laboratory – Department of Biology
Madison Mulcahy, Undergraduate Student – Dr. Nixon Laboratory – Department of Psychology
Ashley Nechyba, Undergraduate Student – Dr. Lewis Laboratory – College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Dhir Patel, Undergraduate Student – Dr. Lewis Laboratory – College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Angelica Riviezzo, Undergraduate Student – Dr. Nixon Laboratory – Department of Biology
Gillian Romeu, Undergraduate Student – Dr. Nixon Laboratory – Department of Psychology
Will Rose, Undergraduate Student – Dr. Nixon Laboratory – Department of Psychology
Odelia Tiutyama, Undergraduate Student – Dr. Nixon Laboratory – Department of Psychology
Ndidimaka Udokwu, Undergraduate Student – Dr. Lewis Laboratory – College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

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

Recent Publications

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

Blaes SL, Shimp KG, Betzhold SM Setlow B, & Orsini CA (in press).Chronic cocaine causes age-dependent increases in risky choice in both males and females. Behavioral Neuroscience.

Gebru NM, Benvenuti MC, Rowland BHP, Kalkat M, Chauca PG, Leeman RF. Relationships among Substance Use, Sociodemographics, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Awareness and Related Attitudes among Young Adult Men Who Have Sex with Men [published online ahead of print, 2022 Feb 21]. Subst Use Misuse. 2022;1-13. doi:10.1080/10826084.2022.2040030

Harris SS, Green SM, Kumar M, Urs NM. A role for cortical dopamine in the paradoxical calming effects of psychostimulants. Sci Rep 123129 2022 Feb 24. doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-07029-2

Wright KN, Johnson NL, Dossat AM, Wilson JT, Wesson DW. Reducing local synthesis of estrogen in the tubular striatum promotes attraction to same-sex odors in female mice. Horm Behav. 2022 Jan 29;140:105122. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2022.105122. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35101702.

Zhang P, Guergues J, Alleyne ARB, Cirino TJ, Nadeau O, Figueroa AM, Stacy HM, Suzuki T, McLaughlin JP, Stevens SM Jr, Liu B. Novel histone modifications in microglia derived from a mouse model of chronic pain. Proteomics. 2022 Jan 26:e2100137. doi: 10.1002/pmic.202100137. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35081661.

Career & Training Opportunities

Post-Doctoral Fellowship at University of Chicago, Clinical Addictions Research Laboratory

The University of Chicago, Department of Psychiatry, Clinical Addictions Research Laboratory (Director: Andrea King, Ph.D.) invites applications for post-doctoral training in clinical addiction science starting August 2022. Funding for one or two positions is provided by NIDA (Integrative Training in the Neurobiology of Addictive Behaviors) and NIGMS (Clinical Therapeutics) T32 training grants. Click here for details. All inquiries should be directed to Andrea C. King, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry (e-mail: aking@bsd.uchicago.edu).