En español



Quick Links

Avenir Award Winners

Revised October 2019

About the Awards

NIDA’s Avenir Awards provide grants to early-stage investigators who propose highly innovative studies.  “Avenir” is the French word for “future”, and these awards represent NIDA’s commitment to supporting researchers who represent the future of addiction science. Awardees receive up to $300,000 per year for five years to support their projects. NIDA has two Avenir award programs, one for HIV/AIDS and another on the genetics and epigenetics of substance abuse.

2019 HIV/AIDS Research

Ian W. Holloway, Ph.D.

Ian W. Holloway, Ph.D.

University of California, Los Angeles

Dr. Holloway is a licensed clinical social worker and an associate professor of social welfare at the University of California, Los Angeles. His applied behavioral health research examines the contextual factors that contribute to health disparities among sexual and gender minority populations. He is an expert in social network analysis and how social media and new technologies can be harnessed for health promotion and disease prevention. Dr. Holloway has been a principal investigator on research studies funded by the Department of Defense, the California Tobacco Related Disease Research Program and the California HIV/AIDS Research Program. He holds master’s degrees in social work and public health from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in social work from the University of Southern California. More about Dr. Holloway

Gregg Steven Gonsalves, Ph.D.

Gregg Steven Gonsalves, Ph.D.

Yale University

Dr. Gonsalves is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology (Microbial Diseases) at the Yale School of Public Health and a member of the Public Health Modeling Unit. He is also an Associate (Adjunct) Professor of Law at Yale Law School, where he co-directs the Global Health Justice Partnership. His research uses quantitative models to improve the response to the syndemic of substance use, infectious diseases and social inequality. For more than 30 years, he worked on HIV with organizations around the world, including the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power and the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa. He is a 2011 graduate of Yale College and received his Ph.D. from Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 2017. He is a 2018 MacArthur Fellow. More about Dr. Gonsalves

Alon Herschhorn, Ph.D.

Alon Herschhorn, Ph.D.

University of Minnesota

Dr. Herschhorn is an assistant professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases and International Medicine at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Herschhorn received his Ph.D. from Tel Aviv University in Israel, completed his postdoctoral training at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute / Harvard Medical School (DFCI/HMS), and joined the DFCI/HMS faculty as Instructor in Microbiology and Immunobiology in 2013. He uses interdisciplinary approaches at the interface of synthetic and molecular virology, immunology and cell biology to develop a comprehensive research program for studying virus-host interactions at the molecular and cellular levels, with the aim of translating new insights into novel therapies and vaccines to treat and prevent viral infections. Dr. Herschhorn’s Avenir application is focused on delineating and targeting the pathways used by HIV to escape broadly neutralizing antibodies.  More about Dr. Herschhorn

Annick Bórquez, Ph.D.

Annick Borquez, Ph.D.

University of California, San Diego

Dr. Bórquez is an HIV and drug use epidemiologist whose research seeks to better understand, predict and respond to intersecting epidemics of drug use disorders and associated health harms, with a focus on social and structural determinants of health. She develops and integrates mathematical modeling methods with health economics and qualitative research methods to inform effective policy decision making in this field. Dr. Bórquez’s project will focus on enhancing public health preparedness to emerging drug use epidemics in the United States and will pilot an online outreach intervention to facilitate linkage to health and harm reduction services in the context of emerging drug use epidemics. Dr. Bórquez has a background in medical microbiology from the University of Edinburgh and holds a MSc and a Ph.D. in epidemiology from the department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Imperial College London. More about Dr. Bórquez

2019 Genetics or Epigenetics Research

Erin S. Calipari, Ph.D.

Erin S. Calipari, Ph.D.

Vanderbilt University

Project: Making and breaking opioid memories to prevent relapse

More about Dr. Calipari


Shuo Chen, Ph.D.

Shuo Chen, Ph.D.

University of Maryland, Baltimore

Project: A Multivariate Mediation and Deep Learning Framework for Genome-Connectome -Substance Use Research

More about Dr. Chen

2018 Winners

2018 HIV/AIDS Research

Ashley Buchanan

Ashley Buchanan, DrPH

University of Rhode Island

Ashley Buchanan, DrPH, is an Assistant Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Rhode Island, where she specializes in the areas of Biostatistics and Epidemiology. She received her Doctorate in Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2015 and was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in 2016. She has domestic and international experience collaborating on HIV/AIDS research to develop and apply causal methodology to improve treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS. Dr. Buchanan’s research program focuses on causal inference, including generalizability and interference, observational studies, and network science. Dr. Buchanan’s Avenir application is focused on the advancement of HIV prevention and treatment research by studying drug users who are part of social networks or communities that may exert biological or social influence on their members.

2018 Genetics or Epigenetics Research

Mathieu Wimmer, Ph.D. 

Mathieu Wimmer, Ph.D.

Temple University of the Commonwealth

Project: Unraveling epigenetic mechanisms of opioid addiction susceptibility using multigenerational animal models

More about Dr. Wimmer

Kathryn D. Meyer, Ph.D.

Kathryn D. Meyer, Ph.D.

Duke University 

Project: Epitranscriptomic Regulation of Synaptic Responses to Drugs of Abuse

More about Dr. Meyer


Andreas Robert Pfenning, Ph.D.

Andreas Robert Pfenning, Ph.D.

Carnegie-Mellon University 

Project: Interpreting the regulatory mechanisms underlying the predisposition to substance use disorders 

More about Dr. Pfenning


Christina Woo, Ph.D.

Christina Woo, Ph.D.

Harvard University

Project: Precision pharmacology of the opioids

More about Dr. Woo


Jian Feng, Ph.D.

Jian Feng, Ph.D.

Florida State University

Project: Three Dimensional Chromosome Architecture in Drug Addiction

More about Dr. Feng

2017 Winners

2017 HIV/AIDS Research

Zachary A. Klase

Photo of Zachary A. Klase

The University of the Sciences in Philadelphia

Zachary A. Klase, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at The University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. He received his doctorate in Immunology and Tropical Medicine at the George Washington University in 2009, received postdoctoral training at the Laboratory of Molecular Microbiology, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and joined the faculty of USciences in 2014. Dr. Klase’s research program focused on the molecular pathogenesis of HIV-1, with a particular emphasis on cure research. He has expertise in examining the intricacies of chromatin modification at the integrated provirus, and his laboratory has developed new tools to visualize the chromatin landscape as it relates to viral latency. His Avenir application is focused on examining how drugs of abuse may alter the epigenetic landscape in HIV-1 infected individuals.

2017 Genetics or Epigenetics Research

Rohan Hugh Craig Palmer, Ph.D.

Rohan Palmer, Ph.D.

Emory University

Project: The Kinship Risk Score: An Integrative Tool to Prioritize Alcohol and Drug-Addiction Related Genes for Enhanced Risk Prediction

More about Dr. Palmer

Michael A. Crickmore, Ph.D.

Michael Crickmore, Ph.D.

Boston Children’s Hospital

Project: Mating behavior in Drosophila as a model for understanding and controlling aberrant dopaminergic responses

More about Dr. Crickmore


Jason Ernst, Ph.D.

Jason Ernst

University of California, Los Angeles

Project: Deciphering the Relationship between Substance Use and Psychiatric Disorders from Whole Genome Sequencing Data

More about Dr. Ernst

Elizabeth A. Heller, Ph.D.

Elizabeth A Heller, Ph.D.

University of Pennsylvania

Project: Chromatin-mediated alternative splicing in reward pathophysiology

More about Dr. Heller


Albert Keung, Ph.D.

Albert J. Keung

North Carolina State University, Raleigh

Project: The Epigenome in Substance Abuse Disorders: Engineering New Tools to Dissect Function from Form

More about Dr. Keung

Olivia Gabrielle Corradin, Ph.D.

Olivia Corridin

Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Project: Delineating genetic risk to addiction via analysis of 3D chromatin architecture

More about Dr. Corradin


2016 Winners

2016 HIV/AIDS Research

Michael E. Newcomb

Photo of Michael E. Newcomb

Northwestern University

Michael E. Newcomb, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Social Sciences at Northwestern University and the Associate Director of Scientific Development of the Northwestern Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing (ISGMH). He received his doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2012. Dr. Newcomb’s research program broadly focuses on health disparities in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) adolescents and young adults. He has particular expertise in HIV and substance use prevention among young gay and bisexual men and prioritizes understanding the interpersonal contexts that lead to resilience against negative health outcomes, including healthy romantic relationships and family functioning. Dr. Newcomb's research program seeks to develop interventions that mitigate health disparities by capitalizing on these resiliencies.

Daniel Lingwood

Photo of Daniel Lingwood

Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard

Daniel Lingwood, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at The Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard and is a faculty member in the Virology Program at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Lingwood received his Ph.D. from the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biology and Genetics, conducted postdoctoral work at the Vaccine Research Center at NIH, and joined the Ragon faculty in 2014. Dr. Lingwood has garnered international recognition for his discovery that humans possess genetically-encoded antibody sequences that when properly presented as germline B cell receptors, naturally engage conserved sites of viral vulnerability and serve as substrates upon which broadly neutralizing antibodies can be developed. Dr. Lingwood’s lab now centers on defining how this germline antibody 'pattern recognition' can be harnessed as a genetic template for vaccine design.

Alexander Marson

Photo of Alexander Marson

University of California, San Francisco

Alexander Marson, M.D., Ph.D., is currently a Sandler Faculty Fellow and a clinical fellow in infectious diseases at UCSF and will become assistant professor in the UCSF Department of Microbiology and Immunology in July, 2016. He completed his M.D./Ph.D. training at Harvard and MIT and internal medicine residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He is also affiliated with the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Innovative Genomics Initiative. Dr. Marson’s research integrates systems-scale investigations of human CD4+ T cell circuitry with functional perturbation studies. His laboratory has developed new tools for experimental and therapeutic genome engineering in primary human T cells using CRISPR/Cas9 ribonucleoproteins (RNPs). These studies are designed to develop targets for a new generation of HIV therapeutics aimed at eradicating latent virus from patients.

Sunil Suhas Solomon

Photo of Sunil Suhas Solomon

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Sunil Suhas Solomon, MBBS, Ph.D., MPH, is an Assistant Professor in Medicine, in the Division of Infectious Diseases, at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He completed his medical training at the Sri Ramachandra Medical University in Chennai, India and received a Masters in Public Health and a doctorate in Epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins University. His research is focused on epidemiology, clinical management and access to HIV and HCV care among vulnerable Indian populations such as people who inject drugs and men who have sex with men. His Avenir application is focused on identifying innovative cost-effective strategies that capitalize upon network-connectedness of People Who Inject Drugs (PWID) to identify viremic HIV-infected persons who may or may not be aware of their HIV or HCV status and link them to care centers.

Ryan Westergaard

Photo of Ryan Westergaard

University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health

Ryan Westergaard, M.D., Ph.D. MPH, is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Dr. Westergaard attended medical school at Johns Hopkins University. He completed a primary care internal medicine residency at the University of Colorado at Denver, where he was also a staff physician at Denver Health Medical Center. He received fellowship training in infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Johns Hopkins AIDS Service, and completed clinical research training at the Bloomberg School of Public Health under the mentorship of Dr. Gregory Kirk. His current research projects involve interventions to improve quality and continuity of care for HIV-infected patients, with special emphasis on people with psychiatric illness, people who use drugs and prisoners.

2016 Genetics or Epigenetics Research

Ian S. Maze

Photo of Ian S. Maze

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Ian Maze, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Departments of Neuroscience and Pharmacological Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) in New York City. Dr. Maze received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from ISMMS in 2010, conducted postdoctoral training in the Laboratory of Chromatin Biology and Epigenetics at the Rockefeller University, and joined the ISMMS faculty in 2014. He has garnered international recognition for his work on neuroepigenetic mechanisms of drug abuse and depression, including the discovery that drug- and stress-mediated disruptions of repressive chromatin states in ventral striatum result in increased susceptibilities to both addiction and depression related phenotypes. His lab continues to investigate chromatin regulatory phenomena contributing to drug abuse, with an emphasis on relationships between a novel set of histone modifications recently discovered in the Maze laboratory and aberrant neuronal plasticity contributing to addictive-like behaviors.

Francesca Telese

Photo of Francesca Telese

University of California, San Diego School of Medicine

Francesca Telese, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).  Dr. Telese received her Ph.D. at the University of Naples “Federico II,” conducted her postdoctoral research at the Department of Medicine at UCSD, and joined the faculty of the School of Medicine at UCSD in 2016. She has garnered international recognition for her work on the epigenetic signatures linked to learning and memory, including those regulated by the Reelin signaling pathway. Her current program of research focuses on the relationship between epigenetic signatures in specific neuronal subtypes and different brain behaviors, with an emphasis on the molecular effects of cannabis abuse.

2015 Winners

2015 HIV/AIDS Research

Alejandro B. Balazs, Ph.D.

Photo of Alejandro B. Balazs, Ph.D.

Harvard Medical School

Dr. Alejandro B. Balazs is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a Principal Investigator at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, MA.  Dr. Balazs received his PhD from Harvard University and conducted postdoctoral research at the California Institute of Technology prior to joining the faculty at Harvard Medical School in 2014.  He leads a laboratory that explores the fundamental mechanisms by which the immune system prevents the establishment of infection by employing immunological engineering as a tool to dissect the underpinnings of protection mediated by the natural immune system. His group is focused on applying this understanding to the development and implementation of novel technologies to engineer immunity as an alternative approach towards preventing or treating infection.

Brandon D.L. Marshall, Ph.D.

Photo of Brandon Marshall, Ph.D

Brown University School of Public Health

Brandon Marshall, PhD is an Assistant Professor & Graduate Program Director in the Department Epidemiology at the Brown University School of Public Health. He received his PhD in epidemiology from the University of British Columbia, completed postdoctoral training at Columbia University, and joined the faculty at Brown University in 2012. His research focuses on substance use epidemiology and the social, environmental, and structural determinants of health of urban populations. His research group uses high-resolution computer simulations to identify new strategies that prevent HIV infection among people who use drugs. He has published more than 75 scientific publications, including articles in JAMA, BMJ, and The Lancet.

Christina S. Meade, Ph.D.

Photo of Christina S. Meade, Ph.D.

Duke University School of Medicine

Christina S. Meade, PhD, is Associate Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Duke University, with secondary appointments in Global Health and Psychology & Neuroscience. Dr. Meade received her PhD in clinical psychology from Yale University and completed a NIDA-funded postdoctoral fellowship in drug abuse and brain imaging at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School. In 2008, she joined the faculty at Duke University. Dr. Meade has extensive expertise in the fields of neuroAIDS and addiction, with innovative projects in the United States and South Africa. Her program of research takes a multi-disciplinary approach that integrates state-of-the-art methodologies to investigate neuropsychiatric and neurobehavioral outcomes in drug users living with or at high risk for HIV infection.

Daniel Werb, Ph.D., M.Sc.

Photo of Daniel Werb, Ph.D., M.Sc.

University of California, San Diego School of Medicine

Dan Werb, PhD, is a proposed Assistant Professor in the Division of Global Public Health at the University of California San Diego. Dr. Werb received his PhD from the University of British Columbia, and was a Visiting Scholar at the University of California San Diego. Dr. Werb also holds appointments as a Research Scientist at the Centre for Research on Inner City Health at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS in Vancouver. He has garnered international recognition for his investigations of the natural history of injection drug use – including his exploration of factors influencing the initiation of injection drug use – as well as for his analyses of the impact of illicit drug policies on HIV risk among people who inject drugs. Dr. Werb’s current focus is on developing structural interventions to prevent the initiation of injection drug use in an effort to prevent the spread of injection-driven HIV epidemics. 

2015 Genetics or Epigenetics Research

Jeremy J. Day, Ph.D.

Photo of Jeremy J. Day, Ph.D.

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Jeremy Day, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Neurobiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Day received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina, conducted postdoctoral training at UAB, and joined the faculty at UAB in 2014. He has garnered recognition for his work in the epigenetic basis of memory formation, including the discovery that the formation of reward-related memories requires epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation. His lab continues to explore the relationship between epigenetic states and neuronal function, with an emphasis on the brain circuits that regulate motivated behavior.

Christie D. Fowler, Ph.D.

Photo of Christie D. Fowler, Ph.D.

University of California, Irvine

Christie D. Fowler, PhD is an assistant professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Fowler received her PhD from Florida State University, conducted postdoctoral research at The Scripps Research Institute, and joined the faculty at UC Irvine in 2014. She has garnered international recognition based on her findings that nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the medial habenula-interpeduncular pathway control the aversive properties of nicotine and thereby limit consumption of the drug. Her current research seeks to elucidate the extracellular epigenetic signaling mechanisms mediating nicotine aversion and reinforcement, with an underlying goal of identifying novel targets for therapeutic development.

This page was last updated October 2019

Get this Publication

    2019 Avenir Award

    Red ribbon to represent HIV/AIDS research and a DNA molecule to represent Genetics or Epigenetics research

    The Avenir Award Program for Research on Substance Abuse and HIV/AIDS will support creative individuals who wish to pursue innovative research at the nexus of substance abuse and HIV/AIDS.