What We Do:
DNB supports basic and clinical biomedical and behavioral research to address the public health problem of drug abuse and addiction by developing and supporting an extramural research program that provides an understanding of the neurobiological and behavioral mechanisms of drugs of abuse and their consequences. The division has 5 main goals:
- Goal 1: Validate targets and develop ligands to accelerate pharmacotherapy for drug addiction.
- Goal 2: Determine the molecular and cellular basis of vulnerability to addiction.
- Goal 3: Identify the neural circuits underlying drug addiction and their functional properties.
- Goal 4: Identify behavioral processes that underlie drug abuse and addiction.
- Goal 5: Promote cross-cutting NIDA priorities in the areas of HIV, pain, sex differences, and training.
The Office of the Director, directs, coordinates, and supports the Division’s mission & activities through:
- Maintaining and evaluating our strategic directions and goals
- Supporting our goals through our branch structure
- Developing an leveraging collaborations and activities across NIDA and NIH
Staff Research Interests:
Valentino, Rita, Ph.D. - Director
As the Director of DNB, Dr. Valentino, leads program staff to set a vision that advances the basic and clinical research mission of NIDA to elucidate the neurobiological underpinnings of substance abuse from the molecular to behavioral level and to discover approaches for treating it. She bridges DBN with DTMC and DESPR by promoting translation from target discovery to drug development and by using epidemiology to inform research directions. She represents NIDA on trans-NIH initiatives including BRAIN, SPARC, Neuroscience Blueprint and Sex as a Biological Variable. Her career spans 26 years of academic, research, and leadership experience in neuropsychopharmacology and stress neurobiology. She previously directed the Stress Neurobiology Division within the Department of Anesthesiology at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and was a professor of anesthesiology and critical care at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia. Dr. Valentino is particularly recognized for her research on the effects of social stress and the impact of sex, age and coping style on behavioral and cognitive health, and how this can determine vulnerability to substance use.
Roger Little, Ph.D. - Deputy Director
Roger Little has over 17 years experience in neuroscience, genetics, and psychiatric and neurological disorders. Ten years of which have been at NIH. Roger is the Deputy Director of the Division of Basic Neuroscience and Behavioral Research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse where he helps over see the NIDA extramural research portfolio in neuroscience research in addiction, pain, and HIV-Aids. Previously he was a Senior Advisor at the National Institute of Mental Health. He also served as a liaison and coordinator for trans-NIH initiatives and was a program co-lead for the Common Fund Genes, Tissue, and Expression initiative (https://commonfund.nih.gov/GTEx/index). He led a trans-NIH workgroup that created a federated network of brain banks in the US called the NIH Neurobiobank (https://neurobiobank.nih.gov). Prior to NIH, he was a post-doc at the CDC-NIOSH where he conducted basic molecular neurobiology research focused on the neural signaling pathways related to astroglial activation in response to brain injury. Dr. Little has been recognized with over 25 awards since he began at the NIH and serves on many trans NIH and other committees including the Science Advisory Committee of the National Disease Research Interchange.
John Satterlee, Ph.D. - DNB Coordinator for Trans-NIH Programs and Activities
Dr. Satterlee oversees a broad range of grants and activities focused on molecular regulation of drug abuse phenotypes including genomic, epigenomic, regulatory RNA, epitranscriptomic, and systems biology studies. This includes the use of model organisms to answer fundamental questions in drug abuse biology and behavioral plasticity. Other areas of interest include the development of molecular technologies for imaging and manipulation of neuronal gene expression, integration and analysis of molecular datasets, extracellular vesicles, nuclear architecture, nucleosynaptic communication and intergenerational inheritance. He also oversees a program investigating molecular aspects of HIV/AIDS progression and latency and their interaction with substance abuse. Activities: Common Fund Roadmap Epigenomics Program (co-coordinator), International Human Epigenome Consortium (representative), CF 4D-Nucleome Program (project lead), CF Extracellular RNA Communication Program (project lead), NIH Neuroscience Blueprint Coordinating Committee, Trans-NIH Transgenerational Workgroup, NIDA Genetics Workgroup, and NIDA Neuroscience Consortium.
Steve Grant, Ph.D. - DNB Coordinator for Accelerating the Translation of Research Findings
Dr. Grant is the DNB coordinator for identifying and facilitating the bi-directional translation of the animal and human research supported within the division. Where applicable, he also looks for opportunities for bi-directional translation of scientific findings across NIDA. He coordinates activities such as: monthly presentations on translational opportunities, reports highlighting translatable research findings, and working with the DNB Director to accelerate these activities when possible. Dr. Grant also oversees a small portfolio on cognitive neuroscience, neuroeconomics and decision-making, brain imaging technology and radiotracer development, co-morbidities, and commonalities across addictions within the Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience Branch.
Beth Grigson Babecki, M.A. - Training Coordinator
Ms. Babecki serves as the Training Coordinator DNB. As a Program Official, she mentors applicants and grantees for both institutional (T32 grants) and individual training grants (F30, F31 and F32 grants). She also provides information on small grants (R03) and Career Development (K-type) grants. Ms. Babecki counsels applicants, reviews draft applications, and assists applicants in the interpretation of, and response to, scientific reviews. Grantees are assisted in preparing special requests and any necessary actions are facilitated though internal review by the NIDA Research Training Committee. Fellows nearing completion of their fellowships are mentored on submission of a NIDA research grant and by providing advice using all available human and electronic resources. Ms. Babecki also coordinates activities related to drug testing in hair and other body fluids and tissues.
Christie Espinoza - Program Analyst
As a Program Analyst for the Division, Ms. Espinoza is responsible for collecting, organizing and analyzing data about the Division's portfolio of grants to prepare reports for the Division such as the Director’s Report, the Division's Annual Report, Government Performance and Review Act reports, and others related to funding and program activities. Ms. Espinoza also develops and coordinates arrangements for workshops, meetings, and seminars sponsored by the Division.
Myriam Selmane - Program Analyst
As a Program Analyst for the Division, Ms. Selmane is responsible for implementing the administrative and technical procedures for the Division. She assists in the processing and referral of grant applications for the Division. She is responsible for overseeing all office purchases and meeting registrations. She is also responsible for keeping track of the schedules, meetings, appointments of the Director and Deputy Director; setting up meetings and arranging travel. She is responsible for tracking the Division's purchasing of office supplies. She is the liaison for the Director and Deputy Director in their absence and maintains contact with them. She coordinates activities among the various Branches of DBNBR and the Director's office. Ms. Selmane also develops and coordinates arrangements for workshops, meetings, and seminars sponsored by the Division. She keeps track of the official correspondence between DBNBR with the office of the Director of NIDA. Ms. Selmane is a District of Columbia Notary Public.
Joyce Williams - Program Analyst
Ms. Williams works with the Director and Deputy Director on special projects and keeps the Director and Deputy Director apprised of all direct operations expenditures. Ms. Williams works with the Budget Analysts in the Office of Financial Management, represents the division in a liaison capacity with the Administrative Management and Analysis Branch, and approves purchasing and mailing charges for payment.
Shyra Witcher – Program Support
Ms. Witcher is responsible for handling the travel requests for the division and assists with general requests as needed.
Susan N. Wright, Ph.D. – Program Director for Big Data and Computational Science
Dr. Wright is the DNB coordinator for big data and computational science. She has a background in both neuroscience and computer science, and experience with experimental, theoretical/computational, and clinical research. She oversees activities focused on leveraging data science to advance NIDA’s Strategic Plan, and development and implementation of research portfolios. Other areas included in her portfolio are data curation, sharing, access, reproducibility, security, analysis, harmonization, quality metrics and standards, and visualization. She is a representative for NIDA on several trans-NIH and other committees, including the Science and Technology Research Infrastructure for Discovery, Experimentation, and Sustainability (STRIDES) initiative.