Training Faculty

Our training program is designed to inspire the trainees, to motivate and equip them to make high-impact scientific discoveries in the drug abuse field, and become successful independent scientists. The key to achieving these goals is the quality and commitment of the Core Training mentors. Our Core Training Faculty consists of 12 senior scientists from eight different academic departments, each of whom has both research credentials and excellent training records.

Principal Investigators

Donald Hedeker, PhD

Donald Hedeker, PhD

Professor of Biostatistics, Department of Public Health Sciences

My chief expertise is in the development and use of advanced statistical methods for clustered and longitudinal data, with particular emphasis on mixed-effects models.  I have collaborated with smoking and nicotine researchers for many years.

Hedeker Lab

Xiaoxi Zhuang, PhD

Xiaoxi Zhuang, PhD

Professor, Department of Neurobiology

I investigate the molecular machinery for synaptic plasticity and information processing that underlie reinforcement learning, economic decision making and motor control. Our main approaches include mouse genetics, fly genetics, molecular biology, electrophysiology and animal learning paradigms.

Zhuang Lab

Core Training Faculty

Chin-Tu Chen, PhD

Chin-Tu Chen, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Radiology

Dr. Chen conducts integrative multi-modality molecular imaging in a broad spectrum of imaging-centered topics. Among other projects, he is co-principal investigator with Dr. William Green on a series of studies funded by NIDA on PET imaging of a4b2 nicotinic receptor upregulation and smoking cessation.

Department of Radiology

Harriet de Wit, PhD

Harriet de Wit, PhD

Founder, Human Behavioral Pharmacology Laboratory, Research Professor, Department of Psychiatry

Dr. de Wit’s research focuses on the physiological, subjective (i.e., mood-altering), and behavioral effects of drugs in healthy human volunteers. Current projects in her laboratory include: i) investigating individual differences in responses to psychoactive drugs, ii) effects of drugs at different phases of the menstrual cycle, and iii) effects of psychedelic drugs on mood and neural function. The studies are designed to improve our understanding of the mechanisms underlying motivated behavior and of the processes underlying drug and alcohol use. Ultimately, we hope that studies such as these will help to identify risk factors for excessive drug use and to predict and prevent adverse responses to drugs.

The Human Behavioral Pharmacology Lab

Daniel Fridberg, PhD

Daniel Fridberg, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience

My research focuses on risk factors for substance use disorders. Specifically, I am interested in using mobile technology (e.g., smartphones, alcohol biosensors) to assess individual differences conferring risk for alcohol misuse (e.g., alcohol subjective responses), and devising new mHealth treatments for risky drinking using mobile intervention methods. I also work closely with colleagues on studies that using new and emerging technologies to understand tobacco use and devise new treatments leveraging those approaches. I have served as co-principal investigator (MPI) on two NIH funded projects and co-investigator on several additional projects within the area of alcohol and tobacco use. In addition to my research work, I am a licensed clinical psychologist seeing patients in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, and I also co-lead the University’s Tobacco Cessation and Transplant Psychiatry programs.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience

Alfredo Garcia, PhD

Alfredo Garcia, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Medicine

Dr. Garcia has a broad research interest in the influence of local neuronal environments on neurodevelopment and the coordination of information among neural networks. His current work is focused on understanding the impact of blood gas homeostasis on (1) central cardio-respiratory control, (2) neurodevelopment, and (3) synaptic plasticity. This work has implications for the understanding of the neural basis for autonomic function and cognitive dysfunction in conditions ranging from opioid overdose to epilepsy and sleep apnea.

Institute for Integrative Physiology

William Green, PhD

William Green, PhD

Professor, Department of Neurobiology

My research is focused on the cell biology of ionotropic neurotransmitter receptors, the receptors responsible for the rapid postsynaptic response in nerve and muscle. These receptors are large oligomeric membrane proteins with subunits surrounding an ion channel that opens when neurotransmitters bind to the receptor. There are two different families of ionotropic neurotransmitter receptors. One family includes nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (AChRs), GABA, and glycine receptors, and the other family covers the ionotropic glutamate receptors. There are several projects ongoing in my lab characterizing the assembly, trafficking, and clustering of these receptors.

Department of Neurobiology

Stephanie Groman, PhD

Stephanie Groman, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care

Dr. Groman’s research program rats is focused on understanding the neurobiological mechanisms underlying behavior in normal and abnormal states, with a specific interest in addiction. Ongoing projects in her lab use rats and include topics such as: 1) investigating the genomic and proteomic mechanisms that mediate the progression of addiction, 2) elucidating the neurodevelopmental mechanisms that impact addiction-like behaviors, 3) understanding how the brain guides decision-making functions at the protein and circuit level in addicted states, and 4) determining the social and genetic components underlying addiction susceptibility.

Groman Lab

Andrea King, PhD

Andrea King, PhD

Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences

My research areas of interest include alcohol response phenotype as a risk factor for future drinking exacerbations and alcohol use disorder, alcohol-smoking interactions, pharmacotherapy and behavioral treatment for alcohol and tobacco use disorders and their co-occurrence, community-based research in underserved populations, and electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use as smoking cue. I have been a PI on NIH-funded research for over 20 years, published over 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers, and served in numerous leadership positions for national scientific organizations and locally, including Co-Leader, Cancer Prevention and Control, University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center and past Research Section Chief, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences.

Clinical Addictions Research Laboratory

Daniel McGehee, PhD

Daniel McGehee, PhD

Professor, Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care

I investigate the cellular mechanisms underlying nicotine’s rewarding and antinociceptive effects. All drugs of abuse are known to enhance dopamine release from midbrain reward centers and this is a crucial step in the reinforcement of drug-taking behavior. I am specifically investigating the cellular mechanisms that contribute to this change in dopamine output. Most addictive drugs display significant analgesic profiles and our studies are also exploring the influence of nAChRs in pain control circuitry.

McGehee Lab

Harold Pollack, PhD

Harold Pollack, PhD

Helen Ross Professor, School of Social Service Administration

I co-direct the University of Chicago Crime Lab and the University of Chicago Health Lab. My research interest is in services for severely disadvantaged populations of individuals at the interface between Medicaid and the criminal justice system. As such, I am very familiar with social service and policy issues related to individuals with drug problems. I have also studied the effectiveness of drug courts to reduce the size of the incarcerated drug-offending population. I have served as a policy advisor to previous US Presidents. One example of my outreach efforts is described here.

School of Social Service Administration

John Schneider, MD, MPH

John Schneider, MD, MPH

Professor, Department of Medicine and Epidemiology

John Schneider MD, MPH is a network epidemiologist and interventionist who examines substance use disorder among most vulnerable populations including those with criminal justice involvement.  He focuses on the social and structural factors that create a context of substance use, mental health problems and infectious disease transmission like HIV and STIs.  He lead a NIDA analytic Center to develop advanced methods to better understand opioid overdose prevention among criminal justice involved populations with a particular interest in Black/African American community members.

Public Health Sciences

Mark Sheffield, PhD

Mark Sheffield, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Neurobiology

The capacity to acquire, store and recall knowledge of the world through experience and use this knowledge to maximize reward and avoid danger is essential for survival. In humans, this ability is fundamental to our sense of self and is in large part what makes us who we are. The brain’s memory systems are also vulnerable to disease and trauma, such as Alzheimer’s disease and post-traumatic stress disorder, and are also greatly impacted by addiction.

My lab uses a combination of approaches to measure the activity of large populations of neurons, dendrites and axons in the hippocampus, which is known to be critical for memory function in both mice and humans, while mice experience virtual environments and are forming or recalling specific memories. We can also use light to control the activity of particular neurons or circuits, giving us a way to control the neural representations and circuits involved in memory.

Together, our aim is to reveal the features of neural function at the level of populations of neurons and brain-wide circuits down to the level of synapses, that allow for the formation and recall of specific memories, and in this way, we hope to provide insight into how these memory systems are altered during addiction and disease.

Sheffield Lab

Ming Xu, PhD

Ming Xu, PhD

Professor, Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care

My long-term research interest is to understand mechanisms underlying drug addiction and to find possible treatments. We use behavioral, genetic, anatomical, and molecular biological methods.  One major research project is to identify mechanisms and neuronal circuits associated with reconsolidation and extinction of cocaine-induced reward memory.  Another project is to develop a novel method of using skin stem cells to deliver therapeutic genes to combat the abuse of cocaine, ethanol, nicotine, and their co-abuse.

Department of Anesthesia & Critical Care

Zhuzhu Zhang, PhD

Zhuzhu Zhang, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Human Genetics

My research lies at the intersection of genomics, neuroscience, and bioinformatics. Our lab delves into the complexities of epigenomic regulation in the brain, influenced by both inherent genetic factors and life experiences. Developing and utilizing innovative single-cell multi-omics and spatial genomics methodologies, along with neural circuit analysis and integrative computational approaches, we interrogate dynamic epigenomic and gene regulation at the levels of individual cell types, brain regions, and neural circuits. Additionally, we aim to elucidate how life experiences interplay with individuals’ genetics to leave enduring imprints on epigenetic regulation, thereby affecting behavior and the propensity for brain disorders.

Department of Human Genetics

External Advisory Committee

Kathryn A. Cunningham, PhD

Kathryn A. Cunningham, PhD

Professor and Vice Chairman, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology Chauncey Leake, Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology, Director, Center for Addiction Sciences and Therapeutics (CAST), University of Texas Medical Branch

Robert O. Messing, MD

Robert O. Messing, MD

Director, Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research Professor, Department of Neurology Chair, Neuroscience Department University of Texas at Austin

Former Trainers 

David A. Gallo, PhD

Professor, Department of Psychology

Daniel Margoliash, PhD

Professor, Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy

Resource Faculty

Demet Araç, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology  

Timothy Carroll, PhD

Professor, Department of Radiology  

Chuan He, PhD

HHMI Investigator, John T. Wilson Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Chemistry  

Narayanan (Bobby) Kasthuri, PhD

Neuroscience Researcher, Argonne National Laboratory, Associate Professor, Department of Neurobiology  

Sarah Keedy, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience