INIA-Neuroimmune Executive Team

Adron Harris
Consortium Coordinator
 
Adron Harris received his Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of North Carolina in 1973 and conducted his postdoctoral work at the University of California at San Francisco. Dr. Harris served as President of the Research Society on Alcoholism from 1993-1995 and is currently President of the International Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism. He served as the Director of the Alcoholism Research Center at the University of Colorado School of Medicine from 1992-1998. In 1998 he moved to The University of Texas where he holds the M. June and J. Virgil Waggoner Chair in Molecular Biology and is Director of the Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research. His research is focused on the molecular sites of alcohol action in brain and the molecular changes in brain that are responsible for alcohol dependence.
 
Contact Info
     Email: harris@austin.utexas.edu
    Phone: (512) 232-2514


Gregg Homanics
Co-Scientific Director

Dr. Homanics’ laboratory is focused on understanding the molecular mechanism(s) of action of alcohol.  Despite being the most widely used and abused drug, it is largely unknown how alcohol exerts its effects on the brain to cause alcohol-induced behavioral changes.  If we could understand alcohol’s mechanism of action, we may ultimately be able to develop safe and effective treatments for preventing / combatting alcohol use disorders and alcoholism.
Two basic approaches are utilized by the Homanics laboratory for investigating alcohol action.  The first approach employs genetically engineered mice.  Mutant mice are created that harbor precise alterations in genes that encode putative alcohol targets.  The mutant mice are tested at the cellular, molecular, and whole animal levels for alterations in alcohol-induced responses.  The second approach utilizes molecular biology to investigate the epigenetic effects of alcohol on changes in gene expression.
Trainees in Dr. Homanics’ laboratory have the opportunity to use molecular biology and embryonic stem cell techniques to create genetically engineered mice.  Such mice are subsequently analyzed using molecular biology, pharmacology, histology, and numerous whole animal behavioral assays.  Studies of the epigenetic effects of alcohol action utilize chromatin immunoprecipitation, quantitative real time PCR, and western blotting techniques.
Contact Info

    Email: HomanicsGE@anes.upmc.edu
     Office: (412) 648-8172


Marisa Roberto
Co-Scientific Director
 
The focus of Dr. Roberto research is to understand which specific neuronal mechanisms undergo synaptic or molecular changes to influence the development of drug and alcohol dependence. The working hypothesis is that adaptations occur in the neural circuitry in response to chronic drug abuse, triggering the ‘drive’ or craving to take drugs. The discovery and characterization of such neuroadaptative changes has and will be useful toward developing new therapeutic agents to alleviate drug dependence, particularly alcohol dependence. In 2005, Dr. Roberto received the Young Investigator Award from the Research Society on Alcoholism and in 2009, the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), which is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers.
Using electrophysiological and molecular approaches, studies conducted in her laboratory have demonstrated a key synaptic effect of several neuropeptides such as CRF, NPY, N/OFQ, ghrelin and opioid peptides on GABAergic and glutamatergic transmission in the rodent CeA.
Contact Info

     Email: mroberto@scripps.edu
     Office: (858) 784-7262


Antonio Noronha
INIA-N contact at NIAAA
Director, Division of Neuroscience and Behavior
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
National Institutes of Health

Dr. Antonio Noronha is the Director of the Division of Neuroscience and Behavior at NIAAA. Dr. Noronha came to NIAAA in 1990 from the Intramural program of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (1982-1990). At NIAAA he served as the Executive Secretary for Neuroscience Research until 1999.  From 1999- 2003, he has served as Chief of the Neuroscience and Behavioral Research Branch in the former Division of Basic Research. In 2003, he was appointed the Director of the Division of Neuroscience and Behavior at NIAAA.  Dr. Noronha’s research interests include alcohol and the brain; alcohol–induced behavioral effects; neurodegenerative disorders, such as multiple sclerosis; peripheral neuropathies; and alcohol–related damage to the fetus.  He has conducted research on the biochemistry of myelin–associated glycoprotein, and on the role of cell adhesion molecules and other glycoconjugates in demyelinating disorders and Fetal Alcohol Exposure effects on the brain.  Dr. Noronha has a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University, Chicago, and has received many honors and awards, including several NIH Director’s Awards, the RSA Seixas Award for Distinguished Service, and the Martin Trusty Award for Excellence in Management.  The Division of Neuroscience and Behavior promotes research on ways in which neuronal and behavioral systems are influenced by genetic, developmental, and environmental factors in conjunction with alcohol exposure to engender alcohol abuse and alcoholism.
 
Contact Info
    Email: anoronha@mail.nih.gov
    Office: (301) 443-7722

 

Mark Egli, Ph.D.
INIA-N contact at NIAAA
Deputy Director, Division of Neuroscience and Behavior
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
National Institutes of Health

Mark Egli came to NIAAA and the NIH from Vanderbilt University in November 2000. He has been responsible for managing a behavioral neuroscience portfolio and directing a contract-supported program to evaluate medications in preclinical models of alcohol. He currently serves as Science Officer for INIA-Neuroimmune and INIA-Stress.

Contact Info
    Email: megli@willco.niaaa.nih.gov
    Office: (301) 594-6382