Division of Neuroscience and Behavior (DNB)

Cover of Special Issue of Biological PsychiatryCheck out the Special Issue of Biological Psychiatry, edited by Rita Valentino, Walter Koroshetz and Nora Volkow.

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 drugs of abuse 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 drugs of abuse 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.

On July 2, 2019, President Donald J Trump announced the recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). The Division of Neuroscience and Behavior supports three of the 2019 recipients, Amy Janes, Ph.D. (Harvard Medical School); Donna Calu, Ph.D. (University of Maryland); and Ian Maze (Icahn School of Medicine at Mt Sinai). 

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

See text below for branch interests
  • The Chemistry Pharmacology Branch (CP), directed by Rao Rapaka, is focused on early discovery and validation of targets to treat abuse, addiction and adverse effects of drugs of abuse.  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 abuse and addiction, effects of drugs of abuse on epigenetic and non-coding factors that regulate gene expression and the consequences of exposure to drugs of abuse 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 drugs of abuse and behavioral, cognitive and environmental approaches for treating drug abuse, addiction and the adverse consequences of drugs of abuse.
  • The Integrative Neuroscience Branch (IN), directed by Roger Sorensen, supports research related to the effects of drugs of abuse 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.

Interests between the scientific branches overlap so there are integrated initiatives. Certain cross-cutting programs span all four branches including a portfolio in HIV-AIDS research, Data Science Research 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 abuse.

Research Interests:

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
6001 Executive Blvd., Rm 4282, MSC 9555
Bethesda, MD 20892-9555
Rockville, MD 20852 (for Package Deliveries)
(301) 594-6043 (fax)