What We Do:
The INB supports research to identifythe neural circuits and synaptic responses underlying drug addiction to understand the mechanisms of action, the neuroplastic adaptations, and the functional outcomes that occur as a consequence of drug abuse throughout the addictive process. This includes the regulation of neurotransmission under drug-free, drug-exposed, and drug-withdrawn conditions, and the influences of modifiers such as sex and gender, stress, pain, and co-occurring disorders , including HIV/AIDS.
The grant portfolios maintained within the INB delineate the fundamental neurobiological mechanisms of addiction using a variety of scientific approaches, thereby enabling the identification of the structural and functional neuroadaptations due to drug use at the morphometric, electrophysiological, neurochemical, and behavioral levels of analysis. These include:
- Regulation of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission, at the molecular, cellular and circuit levels, including the processes of signal transduction, the coupling of receptors to second messenger systems, trafficking of regulatory elements within the neuron and neuroplasticity induced by chronic intermittent exposure to abused substances and withdrawal from chronic use.
- The study of persistent neuroadaptations that occur as a consequence of repeated intermittent drug exposure, including structural and functional changes in the brain associated with long-term drug use and drug withdrawal, neurotoxicity, and neuroprotection.,
- Neuron-glia interactions in the CNS and their modification by abused substances.
- Neuroendocrine modulation of neural systems and their functions, including the study of neurosteroids, neuroactive steroids, gender-related brain function, endogenous peptides, and hormones of the stress axis.
- Neuroimmune modulation of the brain as it is related to drug abuse, including the influences of neuroAIDS and drug-induced neuroinflammation.
- Morphological and functional changes in the brain brought about by pain and recurrent opiate administration as it is related to drug abuse and addiction.
- Bioinformatic and computational approaches to understand the transition from voluntary to compulsive drug use.
Staff Research Interests:
- Roger Sorensen, Ph.D., M.P.A. - Branch Chief
Dr. Sorensen’s programmatic interests broadly concern studies of the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the functional changes in neuronal excitability, synaptic plasticity, homeostasis, and communication within neural circuits and networks as a consequence of substance abuse and addiction. Of additional interest are the effects of psychoactive drugs on the functional interactions between neurons and glial cells in their regulation of neuronal activity. Dr. Sorensen manages the Pathways to Independence Award [K99/R00] program in basic research, and is co-Chair of the NIDA-NIAAA Neuroscience Workgroup.
Dr. Sorensen received a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Maryland, College Park, a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Indiana University, Bloomington, and a M.P.A. in healthcare management and policy from Rutgers University-Camden, NJ. Prior to joining the NIH, he held a faculty position at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia. Dr. Sorensen came to the NIH in 2000 as a Presidential Management Intern [now Fellow] and Program Official for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). He joined NIDA in 2007. He contributes to various programs and planning activities across the NIH including, the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience, the BRAIN Initiative, and the Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions [SPARC] programs.
- Olivier Berton, Ph.D. - Health Scientist Administrator
Dr. Berton’s grant portfolio 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 NIDA point of contact for the BRAIN initiative, where he manages a portfolio of grants pertaining to the cell census network, integrated circuits analyses of and tool dissemination efforts.
Dr. Berton completed his doctoral training in Neuroscience at the University of Bordeaux, France and his postdoctoral training at UT Southwestern Medical Center under mentoring of Eric J Nestler. Prior to joining the NIH Dr Berton was a principal investigator conducting basic research for over 15 years both in Pharma and Academia. He directed a NIH-funded research laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania School of medicine, investigating the neurobiology of affective and social behaviors. He is a longstanding member of the society for Neuroscience and an Associate of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. Dr Berton Research has been cited over 10 000 times and his contribution to the field of behavioral neuroscience has been recognized by several awards, including the Independent Investigator Award from the Brain & Behavior Foundation and Awards from the International Mental Health Research Organization (IMHRO), NARSAD and the Michael J Fox Foundation.
- Yu (Woody) Lin, M.D., Ph.D. - Program Director
Dr. Lin’s program emphasizes clinical and translational research in the areas of pain and of HIV/AIDS. He focuses on chronic pain and prescription opiate abuse and on the interaction of addictive drugs on cognitive function in patients with HIV/AIDS. His portfolio also encompasses endogenous homeostatic mechanisms and neuroplasticity in the brains of patients as a result of chronic pain, HIV/AIDS, or prescription opiate abuse and research in health disparities.
Dr. Lin has been a NIDA Program Official since 2001. Prior to joining the NIH, he was an anesthesiologist, a physician scientist in Pain Medicine, in Complementary and Integrative Health and a neuroscience investigator. He received his M.D. from the Norman Bethune University of Medical Sciences in Changchun, China, and his Ph.D. from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. He also studied and held a faculty position at the China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Beijing, China. He is a member of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, the Society for Neuroscience, and the NIH Pain Consortium. He serves as the Lead Coordinator for NIDA’s Asian American Pacific Islander work group.
- Vani Pariyadath, Ph.D. – Program Officer
Dr. Pariyadath’s areas of scientific interest and expertise include the cognitive neuroscience of decision-making, neuroeconomics, and risk factors for drug addiction, with an emphasis on behavioral measures and neuroimaging in human subjects.
Dr. Pariyadath received her Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science in 2003 from the University of Pune and a Master’s degree in Cognitive Science in 2005 from the University of Allahabad, both in India. She then completed doctoral research in the area of time perception. After receiving a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Baylor College of Medicine, Vani joined the Neuroimaging Research Branch at the NIDA Intramural Research Program to carry out postdoctoral research under Dr. Elliot Stein’s mentorship. Her work at in this program focused on understanding vulnerability to drug addiction using behavioral measures combined with multiple MRI techniques. Vani joined NIDA’s Extramural scientific staff as a Program Officer in 2015.
- Vishnudutt Purohit, D.V.M, Ph.D. – Health Science Administrator
The two main components of Dr. Purohit’s portfolio are pain and the actions of abused drugs on models of HIV. Grants under his purview focus on the central mechanisms that influence the transition of acute pain to chronic pain, with a special emphasis on its modulation by neuroimmune factors elaborated from glia, and the treatment of pain with non-conventional means such as with cannabinoids. Grants in his portfolio that examine HIV and drug abuse use a systems biology approach for conducting research on HIV-Associated Neurological Disorders [HAND] with drug abuse and antiretroviral therapy (ART), the impact of drugs of abuse in the development of HIV latency/ reservoirs in the brain, and the development of new technologies to increase the penetration of the brain-vascular system by ART. He is also an expert in the peripheral effects of alcohol.
Dr. Purohit earned his D.V.M from the University of Udaipur, India, and a Ph.D. in Endocrinology from the University of Guelph, Canada. Prior to joining NIDA, he was a health science administrator at the National Institute of Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse, where he administered grants in the areas of liver disease, pancreatitis, neuroendocrine disorders, immune system disorders and HIV pathology. At NIDA, he is a member of the Neuroscience Workgroup and the Prescription Opioid and Pain Workgroup. He chairs NIDA’s Worklife Advisory Committee.