MARC Scientists

Center Director

Aaron J. Janowsky, Ph.D.

Aaron J. Janowsky, Ph.D.

Research Career Scientist, Portland VAMC 
Professor, Psychiatry & Behavioral Neuroscience, OHSU

Focus: molecular pharmacology of drug addiction and psychiatric disorders

Dr. Janowsky has created a unique environment for exchange between basic and clinical scientists under the MARC, where discoveries in animal research can be applied to development of human therapy and discoveries from work in the clinics can be explored with more rigor in the controlled animal models.

Dr. Janowsky's own work focuses on how drugs of abuse impact the release and recycling of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is the key neurochemical signaling reward in the brain. Drugs like methamphetamine disrupt the normal pattern of dopamine's release, leading to the addictive behavior of seeking more drugs. Drugs of abuse, and especially methamphetamine, are a major concern for Veterans' Administration hospitals because many veterans who exhibit post-traumatic stress syndrome also have drug addictions.

Scientific Director

Tamara J. Phillips, Ph.D.

Tamara J. Phillips, Ph.D. 

Senior Research Career Scientist, Portland VA Medical Center; Professor & Vice Chair of Behavioral Neuroscience, OHSU

Focus: Genetic and neurochemical investigations of risk factors for methamphetamine and alcohol addiction.

Our genetic studies have the potential to identify mechanisms that influence behaviors associated with drug-seeking as well as behaviors that reflect changes (adaptations) in the brain due to chronic drug use. Our ultimate goal is to identify pharmacological interventions to treat and prevent addiction. In addition, our genetic research might allow clinicians in the future to provide genetic counseling to high-risk individuals. We have as a key goal the transfer of information between non-human and human species to provide the most rigorous analyses.

More information on Dr. Phillip can be found here.

Administrator

Bill Schutzer

Bill Schutzer, M.S.

Bill Schutzer is a basic science researcher and administrator. As the Administrative Manager for the MARC he is directly responsible for supporting MARC scientists with the development, implementation, and review of scientific goals and protocols, submission of NIH, VA and other agency grant requests, and preparation and management of institutional oversight documents (human subjects, animal subjects, laboratory safety, etc.). He is the bridge among all MARC scientists to coordinate ongoing and planned work across multiple projects.

Contact for information on Center activities: 

Scientists

Charles Allen, Ph.D.

Charles Allen, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist, Center for Research on Occupational and Environmental Toxicology (CROET)

Focus: Functional properties of suprachiasmic nucleus (SCN) neurons, circadian clock regulation, drugs of abuse and non-photic entrainment

The long-term goal of our research is to understand the functional properties of SCN neurons and how the circadian clock regulates these properties. To reach this goal we are pursuing four lines of research: cellular electrophysiology of the suprachiasmatic nucleus; regulation of retinal input to the SCN; role of intracellular Ca2+ as a signaling molecule in the circadian system; and characterization of the retinal ganglion cells projecting to the SCN.

More information on Dr. Allen can be found here.

John Belknap, Ph.D.

John Belknap, Ph.D.

Senior Research Career Scientist, Research Service, VAMC 
Professor, Behavioral Neuroscience, OHSU

Focus: Genetics of sensitivity to drugs of abuse

The Belknap lab uses a wide range of genetic mouse models including inbred strains, intercrosses, selectively-bred lines, knockouts, congenics and ENU mutagen screens to study the genetics of sensitivity to drugs of abuse. One goal is to detect and map to specific chromosomal regions the genes (polygenes) influencing these traits; another goal is to determine the multiple drugs influenced by these quantitative trait loci and how they interact with other genes (gene-gene interactions) throughout the genome.

Christopher L. Cunningham, Ph.D.

Christopher L. Cunningham, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Behavioral Neuroscience; Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, School of Medicine

Focus: Behavioral assessment of the rewarding and aversive effects of abused drugs.

Dr. Cunningham's lab uses rodent models (rats and mice) to examine the genetic mechanisms, brain systems and behavioral determinants of drug-seeking, drug-taking and relapse.

Matthew M. Ford, Ph.D.

Matthew M. Ford, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor & Staff Scientist II, Division of Neuroscience

Focus: Behavioral processes underlying self-administration, reinforcement, reinstatement, and discrimination of abused drugs in rodents.

During his initial year of MARC pilot funding, Dr. Ford investigated the feasibility of using muscarinic and nicotinic receptor compounds to interfere with the discriminative stimulus effects of methamphetamine (MA) in mice. Promising compounds identified in this earlier work are now being further explored within an oral MA self-administration procedure during a second year of pilot funding. By exploring a combination of MA consumption and discrimination procedures, the involvement of M1 and a42-containing receptor mechanisms in the propensity to seek and consume MA can be assessed, and subsequently manipulated to provide more effective treatment options for MA abusers.

David Grandy, Ph.D.

David Grandy, Ph.D. 

Professor, Physiology and Pharmacology
Professor, Cell & Developmental Biology

Focus: structure, function and expression of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs)

Our current efforts are focused on receptors activated by either dopamine or opiates. Dopamine's effects are mediated by a family of receptors encoded by five genes. We are using molecular and genetic techniques, including the generation of transgenic animals, in an effort to understand the roles that each of these receptors play in a variety of behaviors.

More information on Dr. Grandy can be found here.

David Hinrichs, Ph.D.

David Hinrichs, Ph.D.

Professor, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology

Autoimmune diseases are caused by an immune response to cells or organs of the body. We are developing reagents that specifically modify the immune response against the CNS as occurs in Multiple Sclerosis. Using a mouse model of this disease, we have developed peptide reagents that can block the onset of this experimentally induced disease and can also prevent the relapsing phase of this disease as it develops in this animal model. Presently, we are developing additional reagents to modify the course of disease and prevent its relapsing stage as well as to understand the effectiveness of the immunoregulation that is established.

More information on Dr. Hinrichs can be found here.

Robert J. Hitzemann, Ph.D.

Robert J. Hitzemann, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair, Behavioral Neuroscience

Focus: Behavioral genetics, drug abuse, neuroimaging, psychopharmacology

The goal of our research is to understand how genes regulate complex behaviors, particularly complex drug-induced behaviors. The behaviors of interest include the stimulant response to ethanol, haloperidol-induced catalepsy, exploratory behavior, acoustic startle and prepulse inhibition. The genetic dimensions of these behaviors can be studied in laboratory animals (generally mice) using classical genetic techniques such as selective breeding and recombinant inbred strategies. Molecular genetic strategies can then be used to map the relevant gene loci and eventually isolate the relevant genes.

More information about Dr. Hitzemann can be found here.

William Hoffman, Ph.D., M.D.

William Hoffman, Ph.D., M.D.

Associate Professor, Psychiatry 
Staff Psychiatrist, Mental Health and Clinical Neurosciences Division, Portland VAMC

Focus: Effects of methamphetamine on cognition and decision-making

Dr. Hoffman's research group studies recovery from the effects of methamphetamine on decision-making using functional MRI. Better understanding of the time-course of changes in brain function during early abstinence from methamphetamine will help clinicians individualize treatment and improve chances for success.

Marilyn S. Huckans, Ph.D.

Marilyn S. Huckans, Ph.D.

Staff Psychologist and Clinical Neuropsychologist, Portland VA Medical Center
Associate Professor, Psychiatry

Focus: Neuroimmunological mechanisms contributing to cognitive, psychiatric, and substance use disorders

Dr. Huckans' translational research program integrates human, animal, and in vitro experiments to examine how neuroimmune factors contribute to the neuropsychiatric effects of medical, psychiatric, and substance use disorders. Currently, she has VA and NIH funded projects that utilize neuropsychological assessment, neuroimaging, and immunological techniques to study the cognitive and psychiatric effects of methamphetamine dependence, hepatitis C, and traumatic brain injury.

Jodi A. Lapidus, Ph.D.

Jodi A. Lapidus, Ph.D.

Professor, Division of Biostatistics, Department of Public Health & Preventive Medicine

Director, Biostatistics & Design Program (BDP), Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute (OCTRI), Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR

Focus: Statistical methods for epidemiologic studies, risk prediction models, clustered/longitudinal data, group randomized trials, categorical data, and high dimensional statistical techniques (proteomics and miRNA)

Dr. Lapidus has led biostatistics efforts in health sciences research studies for over two decades, and has collaborated with a wide range of investigators, spanning basic, clinical and population sciences. In 2015, she was named Fellow of the American Statistical Association. She currently directs the Biostatistics & Design Program (BDP), in the Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute (OCTRI). The BDP is home to ~20 faculty and staff biostatisticians, and functions as the university’s core resource for biostatistics collaboration.

Jennifer M. Loftis, Ph.D.

Jennifer M. Loftis, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry
Research Assistant Professor, Department of Behavioral Neuroscience

Focus: Neuroimmunological mechanisms contributing to substance abuse, cognitive impairment and depression

Dr. Loftis’ translational research program uses rodents and humans to characterize the inflammatory pathways contributing to cognitive dysfunction and depressogenesis, particularly in patients with a history of substance abuse and hepatitis C.  It is hypothesized that circulating inflammatory cytokines act on central nervous system (CNS) cytokine receptors, which in turn stimulate the production of inflammatory mediators (e.g., other proinflammatory cytokines and nitric oxide) in specific brain regions, thus contributing to cognitive impairments and alterations in mood.

Dennis McCarty, Ph.D.

Dennis McCarty, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Public Health & Preventive Medicine

Focus: Public-health aspects of substance-abuse research

Through collaboration with colleagues at OHSU, policy makers in state and local government, and practitioners in community treatment programs, Dr. McCarty seeks to increase support for the treatment of alcohol and drug abuse, improve the quality of treatment services, and link policy, practice and research.

Bentson McFarland, M.D., Ph.D.

Bentson McFarland, M.D., Ph.D. 

Professor, Department of Behavioral Neuroscience
Professor, Department of Public Health & Preventive Medicine

Focus: Epidemiology, biostatistics related to mental health services

Dr. McFarland directs a program of health-services research addressing the impact of managed care on delivery of behavioral health treatments and outcomes. His research encompasses the pharmacoeconomics and pharmacoepidemiology of psychotropic medications.

Suzanne H. Mitchell, Ph.D.

Suzanne H. Mitchell, Ph.D. 

Associate Professor, Departments of Behavioral Neuroscience & Psychiatry

Focus: Relationship between drug use and both impulsive behavior and risk-taking

Dr. Mitchell's lab uses human and nonhuman subjects to examine whether impulsive decision-making and risk-taking precedes initiation of drug use, whether neuroadaptations to drug use impact the propensity to behave impulsively, and whether levels of impulsivity interact with the ability of individuals to cease drug use.

Kim Neve, Ph.D.

Kim Neve, Ph.D.

Professor, Departments of Behavioral Neuroscience and Neurology; Affiliate Associate Scientist, Division of Neuroscience, ONPRC

Focus: Effects of genetic and environmental factors on brain function in mouse models of neurological diseases.

Using experimental mouse models of human neurological diseases, we analyze brain function, dissect mechanisms underlying cognitive impairments, and develop tests and treatment strategies to improve brain function in humans suffering from these diseases. Routinely, we use a combination of behavioral, neuroendocrinological, pharmacological, neurochemical, immunohistochemical, cellular, and molecular approaches.

Dr. Neve's profile can be found here.

Jacob Raber, Ph.D.

Jacob Raber, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Departments of Behavioral Neuroscience and Neurology; Affiliate Associate Scientist, Division of Neuroscience, ONPRC

Focus: Effects of genetic and environmental factors on brain function in mouse models of neurological diseases.

Using experimental mouse models of human neurological diseases, we analyze brain function, dissect mechanisms underlying cognitive impairments, and develop tests and treatment strategies to improve brain function in humans suffering from these diseases. Routinely, we use a combination of behavioral, neuroendocrinological, pharmacological, neurochemical, immunohistochemical, cellular, and molecular approaches.

To learn more about Dr. Raber, please click here.

Traci Rieckmann, Ph.D.

Traci Rieckmann, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Public Health & Preventive Medicine

Dr. Rieckmann's work focuses on the implementation, adaptation and clinical evaluation of evidence-based practice in substance abuse treatment. It includes an emphasis on diverse populations, translational research and improving the quality of care through increased access, effectiveness, retention and systems-wide change designed to improve services.

Andrey E. Ryabinin, Ph.D.

Andrey E. Ryabinin, Ph.D. 

Associate Professor, Department of Behavioral Neuroscience

Focus: Neural substrates and molecular mechanisms of drugs of abuse

Dr. Ryabinin's MARC pilot project investigates the role of the corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) peptide system in methamphetamine sensitization and addiction. He also collaborates on Gregory Mark's component using rodent models to identify brain regions that change activity after self-administration of methamphetamine.

To learn more about Dr. Ryabinin, please click here.