A bit of unpleasantry (at least for me)—I’ve been in the midst of a funding drought… I mean as in the middle of the “English Patient” desert drought.  Finally, and none too soon, a new R01 arrived (even better than the bday when I received that blue bike with butterfly handlebars and a leopard print banana seat).  Note: though worthy, the necessity of persistence isn’t the core take-home.  As a result of the timely action of the UF press/promotion team, the study objectives gained broader attention with local TV news outlets producing stories.  Granted, not like “60 Minutes” attention, but good enough for me.  Quick on the uptake, I learned several lessons: a) ALWAYS use the highest level of the “improve your appearance” ZOOM option, and b) people notice the important stuff, e.g., “WHOA, I didn’t realize you might be a scientist”,  (Did they think I was paid for that 4:45 a.m. water aerobics thing?),  “Don’t they provide hair and make-up help?” AND c) I really should clean my office.  While noteworthy, these observations aren’t the main point.  The most important outcome of this 15 secs of fame was that I was reminded that sharing the INTENT of our work humanizes our science and allows the community to embrace the real-world relevance of addiction science.  Point being, although that 5 minute “elevator talk” we practiced as trainees may need some updating, the full impact of our work can be felt only if we are willing to share what we do. If it worked for a curly-headed woman with an Oklahoma accent (some people say), it will work for anyone.  AND speaking of working (smooth, no?)—it has been an incredible month for recognition of excellence in UF CARE related programs, our trainees and faculty members- these are highlighted inside (you’ll want to send to family who had doubts about your ability to succeed).   Finally, our exceptional external advisory committee suggested we expand the metrics used to measure growth and development.  We followed their advice with connectivity analyses. Key outcomes are presented below. These shifts demonstrate significant progress toward our long-term objectives. This progress is entirely the result of YOUR commitment to promoting addiction science and your continued financial commitment via your IDC contributions.  My sincere THANK YOU. 



At the urging of our external advisory committee (EAC) in February, we moved ourselves into 21st  century informatics. Dr. Tom Smith from the Network Science Team  in the UF CTSI examined key indicators of organizational growth and success.  Communities were defined by objective indicators of collaboration (grant applications, published papers). In analysis of our connectivity across 2015-2017, UF CARE was composed of 22 communities.  Of these, only 6 were communities of greater than 1.  Review of 2019-2021 revealed a reduction to 10 communities with only 4 composed of only one member.  Analyses also showed that the development of collaborations was now less dependent on a limited number of “brokers”, that UF CARE members are more directly interconnected and that UF CARE is approaching its goal of distributing opportunity.  Crossing academic silos and building such collaborations are significant goals for UF CARE. It was very rewarding to see explicit indicators of our progress.  

            2015-2017                              2019-2121


Building Community Trust

Early Career Recognition

The Research Society on Alcoholism Early Career Investigator Award is given to an individual who has demonstrated themselves to be a motivated thinker and a leader at a young stage in their academic career. We are delighted that our own, Dr. Jeff Boissoneault (Assistant Professor, Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, College of Public Health and Health Professions) was recognized for his outstanding work with the 2022 award!


Mentoring and education are critical components of our academic mission. Congratulations to Dr. Habibeh Khoshbouei's (Professor, Department of Neuroscience, College of Medicine), who was awarded the 2021 Graduate Education Faculty of the Year from the College of Medicine. 

National Leadership

Participating in professional societies is an important aspect of our work, and serving in leadership positions even more so. We are happy to announce that Dr. Robert Leeman (Associate Professor, Department of Health Education & Behavior, College of Health and Human Performance) was elected as the incoming Chair of the American Psychological Association Board of Convention Affairs for 2023.

Sharing Success

Sharing tips for success, Dr. Ben Lewis (Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine) served as an invited panelist for the Emerging Scholars Outreach Webinar titled “Developing a Training Plan for NIH K Awards." for the Research Society on Alcoholism on March 11th, 2022. 


UF CARE affiliate member and 3rd year Pharmacology PhD candidate Natalie Johnson of the Dr. Dan Wesson's laboratory has been awarded a highly competitive 3 year duration fellowship from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). The title of her grant is “Olfactory Mechanisms Supporting Attraction to e-Cigarette Odors”. In her project, Natalie proposes to investigate the neural circuits underlying the reinforcing effects of electronic cigarettes, especially how chemical additives (also known as “flavors”) in electronic cigarettes contribute to the rewarding effects of electronic cigarette use. Her project will involve recordings from neurons in the brains of behaving mice, optogenetic manipulations of neurotransmission, in vivo pharmacology, and computation methods. 

Importantly, Natalie’s thesis committee and therefore training is bolstered by inclusion of 3 of our UF CARE members, Drs. Amanda Dossat, Lori Knackstedt, and Erica Levitt.


UF CARE affiliate member Lisa Wilson, in Dr. Jay McLaughlin's Laboratory, successfully defended her PhD thesis entitled “Characterization of Novel, Selective Sigma Receptor Ligands as Treatments for Chronic Pain”. 

Her committee included UF CARE members Drs. Brandon Warren, Barry Setlow, Chris McCurdy, and Habibeh Khoshbouei

Next Steps

UF CARE affiliate member Erin Ferguson, in Dr. Jeff Boissoneault's Laboratory, matched in the Adult Track at Brown University for her clinical psychology internship year, 2022-2023. Huge congratulations to Erin for this impressive achievement!


UF CARE affiliate member Elena Kalina, in Dr. Robert Leeman's Laboratory,  was awarded the SHARC T32 training fellowship for alcohol and HIV prevention research. We're looking forward to seeing much more of her developing work. 

Annual Symposium Winners

UF CARE Spring Social

March 2022


Dr. Meredith Berry (PI), Dr. Natalie Ebner (mentor). Opioid-Sparing and Pain-Reducing Properties of Syntocinon: A Dose-Effect Determination (NIH/NIDA, K01DA052673). Thirty healthy recreational opioid users will self-administer 48 IUs of intranasal syntocinon (or placebo) shortly after oral oxycodone (0, 2.5, 5.0 mg) in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, within- subjects laboratory study. Subject-rated abuse liability and cardiovascular and respiratory responses will be assessed before and repeatedly for 5 hours following drug administration. Pain and neurobiological measures will also be collected, including a standardized experimental pain battery (i.e., quantitative sensory testing) and a multi-modal neuroimaging battery (i.e., brain structure, function, and biochemistry). 


Dr. Robert Leeman (PI) R34 Development and Initial Testing of a Multi-Component Breath Alcohol-Focused Intervention for Young Adults (NIHNIAAA, R34 AA029224). 3-stage project, beginning with formative research (N=25) testing brief, MI-based counseling revised from previous R21 study, plus open use of the 3 moderate drinking technologies for 2 weeks with “lower tech” facilitation and a formative interview. In Stage 2, we will create an app as “higher-tech” facilitation and design a multi-modal attention control condition. In Stage 3, we will conduct a pilot RCT to evaluate feasibility, acceptability, usability and preliminary efficacy of a combined, multi-modal intervention. “Higher” and “lower tech” facilitation will be implemented. This research will address gaps from lack of precision medicine and efficacious in-the moment intervention for young adults.


Dr. Jillian Rung (PI), Drs. Jalie Tucker, Robert Leeman, & Sarah Pedersen (mentors). Understanding Harmful Alcohol Use in Context: Utility of Dynamic Assessment of Behavioral Economic Risk Factors. (NIH/NIAAA, K99 AA029732). The scientific goals of this K99/R00 are to determine the predictive utility of state-level measures of delay discounting (Aim 1) and alcohol value (Aim 2) for real-time alcohol use in the field during maintenance of harmful alcohol use (Study 1; K99); and to subsequently determine whether these findings generalize to natural recovery from AUD (Study 2, Aim 3; R00).

And From Our State Collaborators

Dr. Mohamed Kabbaj (PI) and Dr. Zuoxin Wang (co-PI). Breaking bonds in prairie voles. (NIH/NIMH, R01MH125408-01A1). This project will verify the overall hypothesis that breaking bonds in voles alter the OT circuitry projecting from the hypothalamic PVN to the nucleus accumbens (which represents 90% of OT projections to nucleus accumbens) and leads to negative consequences on social behaviors in male and female prairie voles.


Title card for podcast episode 17, picture of Dr. Sara Jo Nixon wearing blue top and gray and black scarf

UF CARE Podcast Episode 17: Dr. Sara Jo Nixon, UF Department of Psychiatry UF CARE Director Sara Jo Nixon, Ph.D. joins podcast host Dr. Oliver Grundmann for this our 17th installment of the UF CARE Podcast.


UF CARE Podcast Affiliate Episode 17: Nicole Fitzgerald, Department of Epidemiology

UF CARE Podcast Affiliate Episode 17: Nicole Fitzgerald, Department of Epidemiology

UF CARE Affiliate Member Nicole Fitzgerald joins Affiliate  podcast host Victor Schneider for our 17th Affiliate installment of the UF CARE Podcast. Nicole is in her second year as a predoctoral fellow through the NIDA T32 Training Program under the mentorship of Linda B Cottler, PhD, MPH, FACE.



Congratulations to the 7 new UF CARE affiliate members!  

Alex Clement, Graduate Student – Dr. Gabrielli Laboratory – Department of Clinical and Health Psychology
Elena Kalina, Graduate Student – Dr. Leeman Laboratory – Department of Health Education and Behavior
Andrew Rizzo, Postdoc – Dr. Scaglione Laboratory – Department Health Education and Behavior
Brianna Rosner, Undergraduate Student – Dr. Leeman Laboratory – Department of Chemistry
Sage Schaefer, Undergraduate Student – Dr. Leeman Laboratory – Department of Psychology
Taylor Thomson, Undergraduate Student – Dr. Setlow Laboratory – Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology
Bailee Wilson, Undergraduate Student – Dr. Leeman Laboratory – Department of Psychology and Linguistics

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 Members, Affiliate Members, Alumni, and *State Collaborators in Bold)

Bush NJ, Schick M, Spillane N, & Boissoneault J. (in press). Stress mediates the association between pain and alcohol use in college students. Journal of Pain Research. 

*Duclot F, Sailer L, Koutakis P, Wang Z, Kabbaj M. Transcriptomic Regulations Underlying Pair-bond Formation and Maintenance in the Socially Monogamous Male and Female Prairie Vole. Biol Psychiatry. 2022 Jan 1;91(1):141-151. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2020.11.022. Epub 2020 Dec 9. PMID: 33549315; PMCID: PMC8187463.

Gurka KK, Young HW 2nd, Hu H, Kuchera J, Cottler LB. Opioids dispensed in the U.S. by prescribing specialty, 2012-2017. Am J Prev Med. 2022 Feb 9:S0749-3797(21)00599-7. PMID: 35151524. DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2021.10.022.

*Logue J, Schoepfer K, Guerrero AB, Zhou Y, Kabbaj M. Sex-specific effects of social isolation stress and ketamine on hippocampal plasticity. Neurosci Lett. 2022 Jan 1;766:136301. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2021.136301. Epub 2021 Oct 21. PMID: 34688854; PMCID: PMC8639811.

Richards VL, Leeman RF, Wang Y, Cook C, Prins C, Ennis E, Spencer, EC, & Cook RL. (in press). Identifying the best measures of alcohol consumption to predict future HIV viral suppression trajectories.  AIDS & Behavior.

Rung JM, Almog S, Vásquez Ferreiro  A, & Berry MS. (2022). Using crowdsourcing for alcohol and nicotine use research: Eligibility, prevalence, and attrition on Amazon Mechanical Turk. Substance Use & Misuse. doi: 10.1080/10826084.2022.2046096

Rung JM, Kidder QA, Horta M, Nazarloo HP, Carter CS, Berry MS, & Ebner NC. (2022). Associations between alcohol use and peripheral, genetic, and epigenetic markers of oxytocin in a general sample of young and older adults. Brain and Behavior, 2021;e2425. DOI:10.1002/brb3.2425 PMID: 35146961

*Saland SK, Wilczak K, Voss E, Lam TT, Kabbaj M. Sex- and estrous-cycle dependent dorsal hippocampal phosphoproteomic changes induced by low-dose ketamine. Sci Rep. 2022 Feb 2;12(1):1820. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-05937-x. PMID: 35110693; PMCID: PMC8810966

Schreck MR, Zhuang L, Janke E, Moberly AH, Bhattarai JP, Gottfried JA, Wesson DW, Ma M. State-dependent olfactory processing in freely behaving mice. Cell Reports. 2022 Mar 1;38(9):110450. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2022.110450. PMID: 35235805.

Vitaliano GD, Kim JK, Kaufman MJ, Adam CW, Zeballos G, Shanmugavadivu A, Subburaju S, McLaughlin JP, Lukas SE, Vitaliano F. Clathrin nanoparticles efficiently deliver BDNF to hippocampus and enhance neurogenesis, synaptogenesis and cognition in a mouse model of HIV/neuroAIDS. Nature Commun Biol. 2022 Mar 17, 5(1): 236. PMID: 35301411

Waddell JT, Corbin WR, MacKinnon DP, Leeman RF, DeMartini KS, Fucito LM, Kranzler HR, & O’Malley SS. (2022). Within- and between-person effects of naltrexone on subjective response to alcohol and craving: A daily diary investigation. Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, 46, 477-491. doi: 10.1111/acer.14780.

Young HW 2nd, Jean N, Tyndall JA, Cottler LB. Evaluating the risk of prescription opioid misuse among adult emergency department patients. Emerg Med Intl. 2022 Mar 2;2022:1282737. PMID: 35284143. PMCID: PMC8906953. DOI: 10.1155/2022/1282737. 


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: