DEVELOPMENTAL ALCOHOL RESEARCH
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Department of Psychiatry
Gale A. Richardson, PhD
Brooke S.G. Molina, PhD
DEVELOPMENTAL ALCOHOL RESEARCH
UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHIATRY
GRADUATE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH
Gale A. Richardson, PhD
Brooke S.G. Molina, PhD
Accepting applications for 2023-2024 fellowship positions!
Gale A. Richardson, Ph.D., Program Director, Professor of Psychiatry and Epidemiology. Dr. Richardson is trained as a Life-Span Developmental Psychologist. She is a senior investigator in the Maternal Health Practices and Child Development (MHPCD) Project, where she is the PI of a study of the long-term effects of cocaine use during pregnancy. She is also a Co-Investigator on studies of prenatal alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco exposures. She is the site PI for a NIAAA-funded multi-site study investigating the dose and pattern of adverse effects in the diagnosis of FASD. Dr. Richardson teaches two semester-long courses, Pediatric Epidemiology and Psychiatric Epidemiology, which are part of the curriculum available to DART trainees.
Brooke S. G. Molina, Ph.D., Program Director, Professor of Psychiatry; Psychology; Pediatrics; & Clinical & Translational Science (CTS). Dr. Molina researches the etiology, course, and treatment of alcohol, drug abuse, and ADHD. She began the Pittsburgh ADHD Longitudinal Study and was PI of the Pittsburgh site for the longitudinal follow-up of the multi-site Multimodal Treatment of ADHD (MTA) study. Her work is multimodal (including neuroimaging protocols) and longitudinal, with data spanning childhood to mid-adulthood. Dr. Molina led the development of the substance abuse portion of the MTA follow-up, including a secondary data analysis grant to test pathways to substance abuse outcomes. Dr. Molina has prevention-oriented research projects in primary care that are developing and testing clinical practice strategies for the prevention of stimulant misuse and diversion by teens and college students, both involve longitudinal follow-up components. Other projects may be seen on http://yfrp.pitt.edu/.
The combined faculties of the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences and of Arts and Sciences are unique in the breadth and quality of opportunities for training. From this group, faculty members were selected for the DART Program who: (1) have the requisite experience as researchers and/or as teachers to serve as mentors; (2) are involved in research on or related to alcohol use and abuse; (3) complement one another in their training; and (4) provide role models to the fellows for research both within their specialty areas and across disciplines. Some faculty members serve as primary mentors and provide expertise for classroom and seminar presentations. Other faculty are available for consultation and secondary mentoring of fellows who need their specific expertise in research projects. Junior faculty are also included to form a bridge between postdoctoral fellows and more senior faculty, given the recency of having been postdoctoral fellows themselves.
Rachel Bachrach, Ph.D., Research Health Scientist and Core Investigator, Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion; Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center; VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. Dr. Bachrach’s research focuses on the psychosocial etiology and consequences of unhealthy alcohol use, as well as how implementation science can improve the uptake and use of evidence-based alcohol-related care. Her current work is focused on identifying disparities in alcohol-related care within the VA primary care setting and improving the quality of and access to these services for Veterans engaged in unhealthy drinking. She was awarded a VA Health Services Research & Development Career Development Award to pilot test an evidence-based implementation strategy (practice facilitation) at a VA primary care (PC) clinic to understand whether practice facilitation can improve PC-based alcohol-related care. She is developing expertise in the use of qualitative methods for improving clinical practice, implementation science theory and frameworks, and intervention design and evaluation.
Lisa Bodnar, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., Professor of Epidemiology; Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences. Dr. Bodnar is a nutritional epidemiologist in the field of reproductive health. She is interested in discovering the nutritional and behavioral practices that optimize the health of pregnant women and their children. Her long-term research goals are to understand the role of nutrition in the pathogenesis of poor birth outcomes and to inform interventions aimed at improving maternal and child nutrition and health outcomes. Dr. Bodnar has a strong track record of publications and grants in maternal nutritional status, obesity, and gestational weight gain. She was a member of the 2009 IOM Committee to Re-examine Pregnancy Weight Guidelines. Dr. Bodnar can advise students on nutritional aspects of alcohol use and abuse.
Judy Chang, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences; Internal Medicine; and CTS. Dr. Chang is an obstetrician-gynecologist clinical researcher focused on women’s health services and patient-provider communication, particularly regarding sensitive and complex issues such as intimate partner violence and prenatal substance use. Her work focuses on patient-provider communication about prenatal substance use and on cannabis and tobacco use among young pregnant women. She has expertise in qualitative research methods including ethnographic approaches.
Yu Cheng, Ph.D., Professor of Statistics and Biostatistics. Dr. Cheng has been intensively involved with collaborative work on applications in psychiatry and COVID. She has served as a study statistician on various clinical trials, including eating disorder and weight management, smoking cessation, depression, bipolar disorder, HIV, behavioral intervention, neuroimaging, and COVID. Dr. Cheng has also been actively involved with developing statistical methods to address the challenges that are encountered in practice, and has published papers in dynamic treatments and adaptive design, disease classification, biomarker evaluation, competing risks, and discriminant analysis. Dr. Cheng can provide expert assistance in statistical consultation.
Duncan Clark, Ph.D., M.D., Professor of Psychiatry. Dr. Clark was trained in child and adolescent clinical psychology, medicine, and adult psychiatry and has conducted multidisciplinary research on the etiology, course, treatment, and consequences of adolescent substance use disorders for over 30 years. Dr. Clark was a founding member of the Pittsburgh Adolescent Alcohol Research Center (PAARC), which was the first to focus on adolescent alcohol use disorders. He currently leads the Pittsburgh sites for NCANDA (Site PI and NCANDA Associate Director) and ABCD (Site MPI and Chair of Bioethics and Medical Oversight), two large multisite studies on alcohol and other substance effects on adolescent brain development.
Robert W.S. Coulter, Ph.D., M.P.H., Assistant Professor of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences (BCHS) and Pediatrics. Dr. Coulter’s research mission is to eliminate substance use and violence inequities for sexual and gender minority youth and young adults. His research focuses on examining the complex social mechanisms producing sexual and gender minority health inequities, especially for alcohol use, and on designing, implementing, and evaluating interventions aimed at reducing violence and substance use inequities for sexual and gender minority young people. He is the current recipient of a NIAAA K Award entitled “Developing and Piloting a School Staff-Based Intervention to Reduce Alcohol and Drug Use among Sexual Minority Youth”. Dr. Coulter can mentor trainees in quantitative, qualitative, human-centered design, systems science, and/or stakeholder-engaged research focused on vulnerable youth populations.
Natacha De Genna, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Epidemiology. Dr. De Genna’s research focuses on developmental patterns of substance use and the effect of maternal substance use on offspring. She has examined the associations between substance use and reproductive health in two high-risk groups; adolescent mothers and their children and women with Borderline Personality Disorder. She was the PI of a study examining the effect of maternal trajectories of substance use on adolescent substance use and HIV risk behavior and a study examining the effects of prenatal exposures on young adult use of alternative tobacco products. Dr. De Genna is currently the PI of the YoungMoms study, a longitudinal, mixed methods study of perinatal cannabis and tobacco use and infant outcomes in women ages 13-21. She also has funding to examine pre-pregnancy and prenatal substance use in pregnant sexual minority women and to examine the impact of minority pregnant women’s experiences with structural and racial discrimination on substance use. Dr. De Genna’s areas of expertise include developmental psychology, substance use epidemiology, inter-generational studies, adolescent motherhood, and health disparities in substance use and sexual behavior. She also teaches Psychosocial Factors in Disease, part of the curriculum available to DART fellows.
Bernie Devlin, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry and CTS. Dr. Devlin’s research has two foci: 1) the development of statistical methods for large-scale genetic studies and 2) analysis of data from these studies. He is an active teacher and consultant, serves regularly on Ph.D. committees, and has mentored multiple pre- and postdoctoral fellows, as well as K awardees. He is a Fellow of the Statistics Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for contributions to modeling genetic data.
Antoine Douaihy, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Medicine has focused his career on patient care, education, advocacy, and research in the fields of addiction, psychology of behavior change, and HIV. His areas of clinical and research expertise are substance use disorders (SUDs) and SUDs co-occurring with psychiatric disorders in adults and adolescents, psychology of behavior change, and motivational interviewing. He has substantial experience in training and disseminating evidence-based treatments for SUDs and motivational interviewing to practitioners across disciplines in medical and psychiatric settings. His involvement in clinical services, teaching, and research allows him to serve as a bridge between training, research, and clinical practice for trainees to understand issues such as therapeutic alliance, recovery, and family involvement and engagement.
Erika E. Forbes, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry; Pediatrics; Psychology; and CTS. Dr. Forbes incorporates a combination of developmental psychopathology and affective neuroscience in the conceptual and empirical approaches to her research. Her main research topic is the role of neural reward circuitry in the development of depression and substance use. She recently obtained an R01 entitled “Social-affective vulnerability to suicidality among LGBTQ young adults: Proximal and distal factors”. She has mentored numerous trainees and is a leader in formal training programs for mental health and addiction researchers.
Brant P. Hasler, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry; Psychology; and CTS. Dr. Hasler’s research focuses on the role of sleep and circadian rhythms in regulating affect and motivation, particularly as relevant to affective disorders and substance abuse. Dr. Hasler is currently PI or Co-PI on several R01s: one examines proximal and longitudinal associations between circadian alignment, reward-related brain function, and alcohol use in high school students who are regular drinkers; a second examines associations between sleep timing and the response to experimentally-administered alcohol in young adults with moderate alcohol use; and a third characterizes the substance use risk profile of adolescents with late sleep/circadian timing and then experimentally manipulates sleep/circadian timing in an effort to reduce risk. Dr. Hasler is also the Project Leader for a project on a center grant that is examining sleep/circadian-reward linkages in younger adolescents and employs an experimental probe to improve circadian alignment and thereby reduce risk for substance use. He serves as a Co-I or consultant on several NIH grants related to alcohol research, including an ongoing U01 that is investigating the longitudinal relationships between alcohol use and adolescent brain development, with a substudy focusing on sleep.
Alison Hipwell, Ph.D., Clin.Psy.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology. Dr. Hipwell’s work focuses on the examination of the prevalence, temporal relationships, and risk factors that predict the development of problem behaviors including alcohol and substance use, conduct disorder, and sexual risk-taking in girls from childhood through adolescence. She is the PI of the Pittsburgh Girls Study (PGS), after 12 years as a Co-Investigator, and her research has focused on identifying female-specific cognitive precursors to substance use and examining the developmental and comorbid relationships with behavioral problems. She is also interested in mechanisms of risk and protection for emerging female-specific problems across multiple domains within family, peer, and community.
Max Joffe, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychiatry. Dr. Joffe’s research goal is to identify, scrutinize, and validate novel druggable targets for the treatment of alcohol use disorders (AUDs), mood disorders, and other diseases. His laboratory aims to leverage contemporary neuroscience techniques to investigate how G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) regulate discrete prefrontal cortex circuits. Trainees in his laboratory investigate: (1) How GPCRs regulate neuronal activity, synaptic plasticity, and animal behavior; (2) how drinking or alcohol exposures usurp, impair, or modify synaptic plasticity mechanisms; and (3) how this information can be leveraged to identify new psychiatric treatments. This research approaches these questions from several angles and trainees will have opportunities to learn whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology, optogenetics-assisted circuit mapping, in vivo biosensor-based imaging, and rodent behavioral techniques.
Kevin Kraemer, M.D., M.Sc., Professor of Medicine and CTS. Dr. Kraemer’s research interests are in the delivery and implementation of patient-centered strategies for the detection and early intervention of unhealthy alcohol and drug use, the comparative effectiveness of alcohol and drug addiction treatment on HIV outcomes and quality of HIV care, and the use of provider-targeted behavioral “nudges” to prevent unsafe opioid prescribing. He recently completed a grant that compared the impact of different alcohol and illicit drug treatment approaches on HIV virologic control and quality of HIV care. He currently leads a 4-year PCORI contract to conduct a cluster randomized pragmatic trial to prevent unsafe opioid prescribing in 48 primary care clinics across 3 health systems. With Drs. Molina and Richardson, he co-directs the newly established Seminar on Addiction Research (SOAR), focused on pre- and postdoctoral and junior faculty researchers from the DART T32 and Dr. Kraemer’s K12, and the Bridging Connections in Addiction Research (BCAR) Seminar, focused on the entire Pitt addictions research community.
Michele D. Levine, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry; Psychology; and Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences. Dr. Levine’s research focuses on women’s health behaviors during the perinatal period, with a particular interest in smoking, weight, and disordered eating behaviors during and after pregnancy. Recent NIH-funded work has focused on cardiovascular disease risk across the perinatal period, predicting excessive gestational weight gain, and interventions to improve perinatal weight management and reduce postpartum relapse to cigarette smoking.
Beatriz Luna, Ph.D., Staunton Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics and Professor of Psychology. Dr. Luna’s research uses multimodal neuroimaging methods including functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), Magnetoencephalography (MEG), Positron Emission Tomography (PET), and Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopic Imaging (MRSI), as well as cognitive testing, to understand the brain mechanisms underlying normative development through adolescence when adult trajectories are defined. She has also studied atypical development, including ADHD, autism, and schizophrenia, and more recently substance use. Her work has led to influential developmental models emphasizing the implications of specialization of different brain systems through adolescence informing normative and impaired development. Dr. Luna can provide mentoring in the use of imaging techniques and the interpretation of imaging data.
Christina Mair, Ph.D., Associate Professor of BCHS. Dr. Mair’s research focuses on the social ecology of substance use, model-based approaches to the study of drinking behaviors and related problems, and population-based analyses of alcohol-related problems such as violence. She is a social epidemiologist and Co-Director of the Center for Social Dynamics and Community Health. She is the Principal Investigator of an NIAAA R01 that focuses on the links between off-premise alcohol outlets and community violence using multi-methods approaches, and is Component Director of an NIAAA-funded P60 that uses an agent-based modeling framework to build behavioral risk models to elucidate specific mechanisms underlying alcohol-related problems and provide a framework for developing comprehensive preventive interventions at the community level. She is an expert in spatial analysis methods and has analyzed changes in alcohol use and risky sex among adolescents and associations with changing neighborhood conditions.
Elizabeth Miller, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Pediatrics; BCHS; and CTS. Dr. Miller’s community-partnered, stakeholder-engaged research focuses on interpersonal violence prevention among adolescents and on reducing risk for HIV/STI and unintended pregnancy. She has developed clinical and community-based interventions in collaboration with patients, health care providers, victim service advocates, public health and school administrators, and educators. She has authored numerous clinical and policy guidelines related to prevention of gender-based violence and its health effects. She was the PI of a NIAAA-funded college campus health center randomized controlled trial (RCT) focused on alcohol misuse and sexual violence. Her research expertise includes mixed methods, intervention development and testing, RCTs, and translating research for policy and practice. She has expertise in adolescent health and development, and can provide input on core adolescent and young adult development and clinical topics.
Sarah L. Pedersen, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology. Dr. Pedersen has expertise in integrating individual and environmental factors to understand pathways of risk for experiencing alcohol problems. She has extensive training in health equities research and is an affiliate of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center on Race and Social Problems. She is actively involved in teaching and mentorship within the Department of Psychiatry, leads a journal club focused on alcohol use research, and completed a 2-year fellowship with the Alcohol Medical Scholars Program that trains fellows to be excellent mentors of the next generation of addiction researchers. Her expertise in conducting alcohol administration studies, utilizing lab-based mood manipulations and ecological momentary assessment (EMA) methods in marginalized populations (e.g., Black Americans) and clinical populations (ADHD, Borderline Personality Disorder), brings new approaches to DART.
Michael Sayette, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry. Dr. Sayette studies cognitive, affective, and social factors that affect addictive behaviors. These factors, drawn primarily from the experimental psychological literature, cut across both behavioral and biological domains. Dr. Sayette has served as the Director of the Alcohol and Smoking Research Laboratory at the University since 1991. His major research interests are the relationship between alcohol and emotions (including stress), and the role of cigarette craving in relapse. His current research examines the impact of olfactory cues on cigarette craving and the effects of alcohol on emotion. Dr. Sayette teaches the Seminar in Addiction (PSYCH 3245).
Daniel S. Shaw, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Psychology. Dr. Shaw’s expertise is in the development and prevention of problem behaviors beginning in early childhood, including early childhood predictors of adolescent and young adult alcohol and other substance use. He has directed or co-led several NIH–supported, longitudinal studies following at-risk cohorts of young, low-income children and their families to uncover genetic, environmental, and GxE risk related to adolescent and early adult problem behavior, including alcohol and marijuana use. His work incorporates ecological, developmental, and prevention science perspectives, and includes intensive and rich data on developmentally-salient child, family, and community level risk factors, as well as functional, social, and academic outcomes using experimental and/or genetically-informed research designs.
Stephanie Stepp, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology. Dr. Stepp’s research focuses on emotional reactivity as a developmental precursor to Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and suicide, as well as emotional reactivity as a mechanism in co-occurring BPD and alcohol use problems. She has conducted several longitudinal, multi-modal studies in children, adolescents, and adults, which have resulted in a growing body of evidence that a combination of emotional and interpersonal vulnerabilities in the context of deleterious family environments underlie the development and maintenance of BPD and co-occurring alcohol and substance use problems over time.
Mary Torregrossa, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry. Dr. Torregrossa has expertise in the neurobiology of alcohol and substance use disorders and conducts research on the effects of adolescent exposure to stress and drugs of abuse, including alcohol, on adult cognitive function and risk for use disorders in animal models. Dr. Torregrossa’s research investigates underlying neural mechanisms associated with the risk for alcohol use disorders, sex differences in alcohol use, and develops treatments to prevent relapse.
Meredith Lotz Wallace, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry; Statistics; and Biostatistics. Dr. Wallace is a biostatistician with a primary research emphasis on developing and applying cutting-edge clustering and machine learning approaches to examine how multi-dimensional data predict health outcomes. She achieves this through her research program focused on sleep health, cognition, and depression in older adults, which utilizes large, harmonized secondary data sets. Dr. Wallace has also been integral in demonstrating and applying statistical methods for optimal combined moderators in randomized trials. Her methods utilize machine learning to characterize subgroups of individuals for whom one treatment or experimental condition may have a desirable or undesirable effect relative to the other. Dr. Wallace analyzes EMA data to study health outcomes, including alcohol and substance use.
Frances Wang, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychiatry. Dr. Wang’s research focuses on understanding the factors that place children and adolescents at risk for alcohol use disorder, with an emphasis on the roles of genetics and comorbid psychopathology. Her NIAAA K award focuses on identifying genetically-distinct groups of adolescents based on unique constellations of conduct problems, depression, and temperament factors, examining developmental change in their expression and testing the extent to which group membership predicts alcohol problems in adulthood. Her research expertise, mentorship experience, and career stage align well with mentoring junior scientists to further their careers in alcohol research.