Division of Neuroscience and Behavior (DNB)

NIDA-NIAAA Mini-Convention: Frontiers in Addiction Research virtual meeting Monday & Tuesday, November 1 – 2, 2021 – 11:00 am – 3:00 pm

The 2021 NIDA-NIAAA Mini-Convention: Frontiers in Addiction Research

DNB staff, jointly with other NIDA and NIAAA staff, organized the 2021 NIDA-NIAAA Mini-Convention Frontiers in Addiction Research, to be held in conjunction with this year’s Society for Neuroscience meeting. We are now soliciting applications for the Early Career Investigator Showcase (ECIS) award. These applications are due by 9/10/21 at 5pm ET. Also, anyone interested can sign up now to receive notifications by clicking on “SAVE THE DATE” tab, you will be notified when registration opens.

Grantee News

Congratulations to NIDA Grantee Dr. Karl Deisseroth for winning the 2021 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award. Dr. Deisseroth won the award for his work on light-sensitive microbial proteins and optogenetics.

What We Do:

The mission of the Division of Neuroscience and Behavior is to discover, facilitate and promote outstanding basic animal and human research towards the mission of NIDA, to identify the causes and consequences of drug use disorders and addiction across the lifespan and to guide treatment strategies. We develop and support an extramural research program that will advance the understanding of the genetic, chemical, neurobiological and behavioral mechanisms of drug use disorders and their long-term consequences. Research related to the neurobiological bases of reward and the behaviors that characterize the cycle of addiction are a primary focus of DNB. Additionally, an integral component of our scientific mission is to grow and maintain a diverse workforce that is dedicated towards our research goals and this is supported through training initiatives that span from predoctoral level to mid-stage investigator.

Recruiting New Staff Members

Staff Highlights

Roger Sorensen

Dr. Roger Sorensen, Ph.D., Chief of the Integrative Neuroscience Branch (INB) retired July 31, 2021.  Dr. Sorensen joined NIDA in 2007. Under his leadership, INB grew to develop a rich and diverse research portfolio focused on neuronal excitability, synaptic plasticity, homeostasis, neural network interactions and the role of non-neuronal cells in the processes underlying substance use disorders and addiction. He assured that INB supported a strong innovative research program focused on elucidating the intersection between HIV and addictive drugs. Roger was particularly passionate about training and career development of the upcoming generation of neuroscientists and he managed the Pathways to Independence Award [K99/R00] program in basic research.  He also served as co-Chair of the NIDA-NIAAA Neuroscience Workgroup that is responsible for the annual NIDA-NIAAA Frontiers in Addiction Research Mini-convention. Roger will be greatly missed by all of his colleagues and many grantees.

Dr. Olivier Berton, Ph.D., has been appointed Acting Chief of the Integrative Neuroscience Branch (INB) as of August 1, 2021.  Dr. Berton is a Program Officer in INB who oversees a grant portfolio that encompasses basic research on cells & circuits in models of addiction and reward, with an emphasis on projects employing genetics or neuro-engineering approaches to interrogate and modulate circuit function.  Dr Berton also serves as a co-Lead of the BRAIN Initiative Team A Cells and Circuits, where he manages a portfolio of grants pertaining to the cell census network, integrated circuits analyses of and tool dissemination efforts. 

Janani Prabhakar

Dr. Janani Prabhakar joined the Division of Neuroscience and Behavior at NIDA in July 2021 to serve as program officer for the HEALthy Baby Cognitive Development (HBCD) study. Janani received her Ph.D. from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Davis. Her research career examined the neurocognitive mechanisms that underlie memory and future-oriented processes in early childhood. In 2017, she joined the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) as a Science and Technology Policy fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). At NIMH, she was a program officer in the Division of Translational Research within the Developmental Mechanisms and Trajectories of Psychopathology branch.

In addition to her role on HBCD, Janani will oversee a developmentally focused portfolio within the Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience branch. She is also actively involved in multiple trans-NIH initiatives focused on child development, including the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program and NIDA’s Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study.

DNB is organized by four scientific Branches that focus on complementary strategic research areas:

Structure of the DNB, see text below
  • The Chemistry Pharmacology Branch (CP), directed by Dr. Subramaniam (Sam) Ananthan, is focused on early discovery and validation of targets to treat substance use disorders and adverse effects of addictive drugs.  Areas of interest include the structural dynamics of receptors, computational drug design, novel mechanisms of drug delivery.
  • The Genetics, Epigenetics and Development Branch (GED), directed by Jonathan Pollock , is focused on genetic determinants of vulnerability to drug use disorders and addiction, effects of addiction on epigenetic and non-coding factors that regulate gene expression and the consequences of exposure to addictive drugs at different windows of development.
  • The Behavioral Cognitive Neuroscience Branch (BCN), directed by Vani Pariyadath, is concerned with the behavioral, cognitive and environmental antecedents of exposure to addictive drugs and behavioral, cognitive and environmental approaches for treating drug use disorders, addiction and the adverse consequences of addictive drugs.
  • The Integrative Neuroscience Branch (IN), directed by Roger Sorensen, supports research related to the effects of drug user disorders on neural activity and plasticity from cellular to network levels.  Additionally, this branch supports research on the effects on neuroimmune signaling and neuron-glial interactions.
  • Dr. Mary Kautz is the DNB lead of the The Tobacco regulatory science program (TRSP)

Certain cross-cutting programs span all four branches including a portfolio in HIV-AIDS research, Data Science Research (led by Susan Wright, Ph.D.) and research related to sex and gender contributions to individual variability. DNB also encourages studies that leverage tools and technology arising from the BRAIN initiative to address questions relevant to substance use disorders. 

DNB encourages applicants to consider the importance of design and reproducibility of their findings, as applicable.

Related Funding Opportunities:

Staff Listings:

Mailing Address:

Division of Neuroscience and Behavior
National Institute on Drug Abuse
3WFN MSC 6018
301 North Stonestreet Ave 
Bethesda, MD  20892

For courier deliveries use: Rockville, MD 20850
(301) 594-6043 (fax)