Alcohol Research Training in Neuroscience

MSC 08 4740
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131

Phone: (505) 272-4411
Fax: (505) 272-8082

Past Trainees for Alcohol Research Training in Neurosciences

Irene Choi, Ph.D. 

Period of UNM-ARTN support: 08/01/03-05/31/05; mentors: Cunningham and Allan.  Irene’s PhD research demonstrated that moderate fetal alcohol exposure results in persistent deficits in adult hippocampal neurogenesis in mice.  Interestingly, these neurogenic deficits only become apparent when the adult fetal alcohol exposed mouse is behaviorally challenged.  For example, when exposed for several weeks to enriched living conditions, control mice display a 2-fold increase in hippocampal neurogenesis, whereas fetal alcohol exposed mice display no neurogenic response.  Further studies by Irene suggested that impaired neurogenesis is due to decreased survival and integration of new neurons in fetal alcohol exposed mice, and not due to a decrease in progenitor proliferation or in the size of progenitor pool within the subgranular zone.  Her dissertation research opened a new area of investigation for her research mentors and formed the basis for a NIAAA-funded R21.   Irene made progress quickly in her research and defended her dissertation work in May 2005. Her work was published in Alcohol. Clin. Exp. Res. (see list of manuscripts below). Irene was awarded a prestigious Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Study Group (FASDSG) Travel Stipend to present her work at the 2004 Annual Meeting of the FASDSG in Vancouver, Canada.  Irene was a NIAAA T32-funded postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Catherine Rivier at the Salk Institute, La Jolla, CA where she worked on Fetal Alcohol Exposure and Regulation of Hypothalamic Neuroendocrine Gene Expression.  She is currently a scientist at Nektar Therapeutics, San Francisco, CA.

Selected Publications:

Choi IY, Allan AM and Cunningham LA (2005) Moderate Fetal Alcohol Exposure Impairs the Neurogenic Response to an Enriched Environment in Adult Mice. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 29: 2053–2062.

Choi IY, Lee S, Rivier C. Novel role of adrenergic neurons in the brain stem in mediating the hypothalamic-pituitary axis hyperactivity caused by prenatal alcohol exposure.  Neuroscience. 2008 Aug 26;155(3):888-901.


Daniel Tanner, Ph.D.

Period of UNM-ARTN support: 08/08/03-06/30/05; mentor: Perrone-Bizzozero.  Dan’s initial project involved the characterization of the levels of expression and phosphorylation of GAP-43 in fetal alcohol exposed (FAE) rats under basal conditions and after being trained in a contextual fear conditioning (CFC) paradigm.  His results demonstrated that the levels of expression of GAP-43 were increased in FAE rats. Also, he showed that in correlation with the learning and memory deficits seen in FAE animals, these animals failed to activate the beta 2 and epsilon isoforms of PKC and to increase GAP-43 phosphorylation in the hippocampus after CFC. These studies were published in Alcohol. Clin. Exp. Res. (see Tanner et al, 2004, below). After completing these studies, Dan began working on how an increase in GAP-43 gene expression could lead to learning and memory deficits. For these studies, he took advantage of a HuD transgenic mouse generated in Dr. Perrone-Bizzozero’s laboratory that showed increased GAP-43 expression, decreased GAP-43 phosphorylation in the hippocampus and impaired hippocampal dependent learning and synaptic plasticity. The studies resulted in two additional publications (Bolognani et al., 2006 and 2007) and one manuscript in preparation (Tanner et al, see publications listing below). Dan finished his dissertation work in July of 2005. He was an NINDS T32-funded postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Margaret Mayer-Pröschel at the University of Rochester where he studied factors contributing to the differentiation of oligodendrocyte precursor cells.  He completed additional postdoctoral training at the University of Rochester under the support of a National MS Society Fellowship.  He is currently applying for faculty positions and working as an Emergency Medical Technician.

Selected Publications:

Tanner D.C., Githinji AW, Young EA, Meiri K, Savage DD, Perrone-Bizzozero NI. (2004)  Fetal alcohol exposure alters GAP-43 phosphorylation and protein kinase C responses to contextual fear conditioning in the hippocampus of adult rat offspring. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 28:113-22.

Bolognani, F., Tanner, D.C., Merhege, M., Jasmin, B. and Perrone-Bizzozero, N.I. (2006) In vivo post-transcriptional regulation of the GAP-43 mRNA by overexpression of the RNA-binding protein HuD. J. Neurochem, 96:790-801.

Bolognani F, Qiu S, Tanner DC, Paik J, Perrone-Bizzozero NI, Weeber EJ. (2007) Associative and spatial learning and memory deficits in transgenic mice overexpressing the RNA-binding protein HuD. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 87:635-43.

Bolognani F, Tanner DC, Nixon S, Okano HJ, Okano H, Perrone-Bizzozero NI.  Coordinated expression of HuD and GAP-43 in hippocampal dentate granule cells during developmental and adult plasticity. Neurochem Res. 2007 Dec;32(12):2142-51.

Tanner DC, Qiu S, Bolognani F, Partridge LD, Weeber EJ, Perrone-Bizzozero NI. Alterations in mossy fiber physiology and GAP-43 expression and function in transgenic mice overexpressing HuD. Hippocampus. 2008;18(8):814-23.

Bird CW, Gardiner AS, Bolognani F, Tanner DC, Chen CY, Lin WJ, Yoo S, Twiss JL, Perrone-Bizzozero N. KSRP modulation of GAP-43 mRNA stability restricts axonal outgrowth in embryonic hippocampal neurons. PLoS One. 2013 Nov 14;8(11):e79255.

Perrone-Bizzozero NI, Tanner DC, Mounce J, Bolognani F. Increased expression of axogenesis-related genes and mossy fibre length in dentate granule cells from adult HuD overexpressor mice. ASN Neuro. 2011;3(5):259-70.

Tanner DC, Cherry JD, Mayer-Pröschel M. Oligodendrocyte progenitors reversibly exit the cell cycle and give rise to astrocytes in response to interferon-γ. J Neurosci. 2011 Apr 20;31(16):6235-46


Sabrina Samudio-Ruiz, Ph.D. 

Period of UNM-ARTN support: 06/01/04-05/31/07; mentors: Caldwell and Allan.  Sabrina studied the neurochemical changes that are associated with moderate prenatal alcohol exposure in mice and that may underlie the learning and memory deficits that are observed in these animals.  Specifically, she investigated the effects of moderate prenatal alcohol exposure on N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor-mediated activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 2 (ERK2) in the hippocampal formation.  It was found that NMDAR-mediated stimulation of ERK2 is substantially decreased in mice exposed to alcohol in utero.  Sabrina was awarded a prestigious Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Study Group (FASDSG) Travel Stipend to present her work at the 2006 Annual Meeting of the FASDSG in Baltimore, MD.  Sabrina’s research was supported by an F31 Minority Predoctoral Fellowship from NIAAA.  She is currently part of the UNM-HSC Academic Science Education and Research Training (ASERT) program for postdoctoral fellows, which provides three years of support to individuals wishing to achieve excellence as both educators and research scientists in biology, bioengineering, and biomedical sciences.  Sabrina is a Research Assistant Professor in the School of Pharmacy at UNM and is working on cancer research.

Selected Publications:

Caldwell KK, Sheema S, Paz RD, Samudio-Ruiz SL, Laughlin MH, Spence NE, Roehlk MJ, Alcon SN, Allan AM. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder-associated depression: evidence for reductions in the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in a mouse model. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2008 Oct;90(4):614-24.

Samudio-Ruiz SL, Allan AM, Valenzuela CF, Perrone-Bizzozero NI, Caldwell KK.  Prenatal ethanol exposure persistently impairs NMDA receptor-dependent activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase in the mouse dentate gyrus. J Neurochem. 2009 Jun;109(5):1311-23. Epub 2009 Mar 20.

Samudio-Ruiz SL, Allan AM, Sheema S, Caldwell KK. Hippocampal N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor subunit expression profiles in a mouse model of prenatal alcohol exposure. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2010 Feb;34(2):342-53. Epub 2009 Nov 24.

Samudio-Ruiz SL, Hudson LG (2012) Increased DNA methyltransferase activity and DNA methylation following Epidermal Growth Factor stimulation in ovarian cancer cells. Landes Bioscience Epigenetics Mar 1;7(3):216-24. PMCID: PMC3335945


Kate (Harms) Candelario, Ph.D.

Period of UNM-ARTN support: 06/01/05-05/31/06; mentor: Cunningham.  Kate’s research interests are in mechanisms of neuroprotection and cell death using in vitro models of injury.  Her projects include metalloproteinase regulation of neuronal cell death and the neurogenic response in stroke.  Although she had hoped to also study cell death and differentiation of neural stem cells isolated from adult fetal alcohol exposed mice, the methods for establishment of neural stem cells from adult animals were not fully worked out in the mentor laboratory until recently.  Thus, the steering committee for the training grant and her committee on studies advised her move off of the training grant in 2006 and focus on her studies in cerebral ischemia.  Kate’s research was supported by a predoctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association.  Kate defended her dissertation in August, 2010, completed postdoc training at UNM and recently moved to the University of Florida, Gainesville for additional postdoctoral training.

Selected Publications: 

Wetzel M, Li L, Harms KM, Roitbak T, Ventura PB, Rosenberg GA, Khokha R, Cunningham LA. Tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-3 facilitates Fas-mediated neuronal cell death following mild ischemia. Cell Death Differ. 2008 Jan;15(1):143-51. Epub 2007 Oct 26

Li L, Harms KM, Ventura PB, Lagace DC, Eisch AJ, Cunningham LA. Focal cerebral ischemia induces a multilineage cytogenic response from adult subventricular zone that is predominantly gliogenic. Glia. 2010 Oct;58(13):1610-9.

Harms KM, Li L, Cunningham LA. Murine neural stem/progenitor cells protect neurons against ischemia by HIF-1alpha-regulated VEGF signaling. PLoS One. 2010 Mar 22;5(3):e9767.

Felsenstein KM, Candelario KM, Steindler DA, Borchelt DR. Regenerative medicine in Alzheimer's disease. Transl Res. 2013 Nov 8. pii: S1931-5244(13)00380-0.

Candelario KM, Shuttleworth CW, Cunningham LA. Neural stem/progenitor cells display a low requirement for oxidative metabolism independent of hypoxia inducible factor-1alpha expression. J Neurochem. 2013 May;125(3):420-9.

Cunningham LA, Candelario K, Li L. Roles for HIF-1α in neural stem cell function and the regenerative response to stroke. Behav Brain Res. 2012 Feb 14;227(2):410-7.


Jennifer Sanderson, Ph.D.

Period of UNM-ARTN support: 08/01/05-05/31/07; mentor: Valenzuela.  Jennifer studied the effects of ethanol on synaptic transmission in the developing rat neocortex.  Her studies rigorously tested the excessive inhibition hypothesis of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.  This hypothesis states that ethanol damages the developing brain via a global mechanism that involves direct inhibition of NMDA receptors and potentiation of GABAA receptors.  Jennifer studies demonstrated that ethanol does not produce these effects in neocortical neurons.  These findings are inconsistent with the excessive inhibition model of ethanol-induced neurodegeneration, supporting the view that ethanol damages developing neurons via more complex mechanisms that vary among specific neuronal populations. Jennifer is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Mark Dell’acqua at the University of Colorado Denver.  She was supported by a T32 grant from NIAAA and is currently supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association.  She is currently is an Instructor in the Department of Pharmacology.

Selected Publications:

Guzowski JF, Miyashita T, Chawla MK, Sanderson J, Maes LI, Houston FP, Lipa P, McNaughton BL, Worley PF, Barnes CA. Recent behavioral history modifies coupling between cell activity and Arc gene transcription in hippocampal CA1 neurons. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Jan 24;103(4):1077-82. Epub 2006 Jan 13.

Sanderson JL, Partridge LD, Valenzuela CF. Modulation of GABAergic and glutamatergic transmission by ethanol in the developing neocortex: an in vitro test of the excessive inhibition hypothesis of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Neuropharmacology. 2009 Feb;56(2):541-55

Bragin DE, Sanderson JL, Peterson S, Connor JA, Müller WS. Development of epileptiform excitability in the deep entorhinal cortex after status epilepticus. Eur J Neurosci. 2009 Aug;30(4):611-24.

Sanderson JL, Dell'Acqua ML. AKAP signaling complexes in regulation of excitatory synaptic plasticity.  Neuroscientist. 2011 Jun; 17: 321-36.

Sanderson JL, Gorski JA, Gibson ES, Lam P, Freund RK, Chick WS, Dell'Acqua ML. AKAP150-anchored calcineurin regulates synaptic plasticity by limiting synaptic incorporation of Ca2+-permeable AMPA receptors. J Neurosci. 2012 Oct 24;32(43):15036-52.

Keith DJ, Sanderson JL, Gibson ES, Woolfrey KM, Robertson HR, Olszewski K, Kang R, El-Husseini A, Dell'acqua ML. Palmitoylation of A-kinase anchoring protein 79/150 regulates dendritic endosomal targeting and synaptic plasticity mechanisms. J Neurosci. 2012 May 23;32(21):7119-36

Coultrap SJ, Freund RK, O'Leary H, Sanderson JL, Roche KW, Dell'Acqua ML, Bayer KU. Autonomous CaMKII mediates both LTP and LTD using a mechanism for differential substrate site selection. Cell Rep. 2014 Feb 13;6(3):431-7.


Vibhati Kulkarny, Ph.D.

Period of UNM-ARTN support: 08/01/2005-07/31/08; mentor: Perrone-Bizzozero.  Previous work by Dr. Perrone-Bizzozero’s lab demonstrated that the expression of the GAP-43 and BDNF genes is increased in post-mortem cerebellar tissue from patients with a history of alcohol abuse or dependence and Vibhati investigated the mechanisms by which alcohol produces these changes in gene expression using animal models. Vibhati found that alcohol vapor exposure increased the levels of GAP-43 and BDNF mRNAs in the hippocampus of P23 rats and that the same paradigm resulted in reduced expression of these genes in the cerebellum of the same animals. Her dissertation work involved imaging and genetic studies in the context of brain damage in alcoholics.  She is currently a Health Science Specialist at the VA Medical Center in Albuquerque.

Selected Publications:

Kulkarny, V.V., Wiest, N. E, .Marquez, C.M., Nixon, S., Valenzuela, C.F., and Perrone-Bizzozero, N .I. Opposite effects of acute binge-like ethanol exposure on GAP-43 and BDNF expression in the hippocampus versus the cerebellum of juvenile rats.  Alcohol.  2011 Aug; 45: 461-71.

 Kulkarny, V.V., C. Marquez; M. Rosenberg; C.R. Wolf; C.F. Valenzuela; D.D. Savage; N.I. Perrone-Bizzozero. Chronic ethanol exposure alters GAP-43 protein levels in the rat cerebellum.  RSA Meeting Chicago, 2007

 Kulkarny, V.V., C. Marquez; M. Rosenberg; C.F. Valenzuela; N.I. Perrone-Bizzozero. Alterations in GAP-43 gene expression in the rat cerebellum in a model of acute and chronic binge alcohol exposure. Society for Neurosciences, San Diego, 2007.

Chavez-Dozal AA, Jahng M, Rane HS, Asare K, Kulkarny VV, Bernardo SM, Lee SA. In vitro analysis of flufenamic acid activity against Candida albicans biofilms. Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2014 Jan;43(1):86-91


Richard Smrt, Ph.D.

Period of UNM-ARTN support: 1/1/2008-5/31/2008; mentor: Zhao. Richard obtained a minority supplement since June 1 2008.  Richard’s dissertation project tested the hypothesis that the expression of small RNAs modulates by Mecp2 and DNA methylation-mediated epigenetic mechanisms play a critical role in the maturation and survival of immature neurons in developing brains. Even though how Mecp2 regulates brain development is still unclear, current findings indicate that Mecp2 is a critical regulator for neuronal maturation that may be an alcohol effect in developing brains.  Richard defended his dissertation in September, 2010 and is currently pursuing postdoctoral training at the University of Arizona.

Selected Publications:

Smrt RD, Pfeiffer RL, Zhao X. Age-dependent expression of MeCP2 in a heterozygous mosaic mouse model. Hum Mol Genet. 2011 May 1;20(9):1834-43

Smrt RD, Szulwach KE, Pfeiffer RL, Li X, Guo W, Pathania M, Teng ZQ, Luo Y, Peng J, Bordey A, Jin P, Zhao X. MicroRNA miR-137 regulates neuronal maturation by targeting ubiquitin ligase mind bomb-1. Stem Cells. 2010 Jun;28(6):1060-70.

Luo Y, Shan G, Guo W, Smrt RD, Johnson EB, Li X, Pfeiffer RL, Szulwach KE, Duan R, Barkho BZ, Li W, Liu C, Jin P, Zhao X. Fragile x mental retardation protein regulates proliferation and differentiation of adult neural stem/progenitor cells. PLoS Genet. 2010 Apr 8;6(4):e1000898.

Szulwach KE, Li X, Smrt RD, Li Y, Luo Y, Lin L, Santistevan NJ, Li W, Zhao X, Jin P.
Cross talk between microRNA and epigenetic regulation in adult neurogenesis. J Cell Biol. 2010 Apr 5;189(1):127-41.

Li X, Barkho BZ, Luo Y, Smrt RD, Santistevan NJ, Liu C, Kuwabara T, Gage FH, Zhao X. Epigenetic regulation of the stem cell mitogen Fgf-2 by Mbd1 in adult neural stem/progenitor cells. J Biol Chem. 2008 Oct 10;283(41):27644-52.

Zhao X, Pak C, Smrt RD, Jin P..Epigenetics and Neural developmental disorders: Washington DC, September 18 and 19, 2006. Epigenetics. 2007 Apr-Jun;2(2):126-34. Epub 2007 Apr 30.

Smrt RD, Eaves-Egenes J, Barkho BZ, Santistevan NJ, Zhao C, Aimone JB, Gage FH, Zhao X.  Mecp2 deficiency leads to delayed maturation and altered gene expression in hippocampal neurons. Neurobiol Dis. 2007 Jul;27(1):77-89.

Barkho BZ, Song H, Aimone JB, Smrt RD, Kuwabara T, Nakashima K, Gage FH, Zhao X. Identification of astrocyte-expressed factors that modulate neural stem/progenitor cell differentiation.  Stem Cells Dev. 2006 Jun;15(3):407-21


Michael Puglia, M.D/Ph.D.

Period of UNM-ARTN support: 08/01/2005-07/31/2008; mentor: Valenzuela.  Michael joined the UNM-MD/PhD program in 2004.  He completed the first portion of his MD studies and finished his PhD work.  He defended his PhD dissertation in December, 2009.  His research focused on the effects of 3rd trimester-equivalent alcohol exposure on synaptic transmission and plasticity in the hippocampus.  Michael is currently back in the MD portion of the curriculum.  He was currently supported by an F30 MD/PhD fellowship from NIAAA.  Michael completed with dual degree in May, 2012 and is currently an Anesthesiology Resident (Research Track) at Massachussets General Hospital in Boston.

Selected Publications:

Puglia MP, Valenzuela CF. AMPAR-mediated synaptic transmission in the CA1 hippocampal region of neonatal rats: unexpected resistance to repeated ethanol exposure. Alcohol. 43:619-25, 2009.

Puglia MP, Valenzuela CF. Ethanol Acutely Inhibits Ionotropic Glutamate Receptor-Mediated Responses and Long-Term Potentiation in the Developing CA1 Hippocampus. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 34:594-606 2010.

Puglia MP, Valenzuela CF.  Repeated third trimester-equivalent ethanol exposure inhibits long-term potentiation in the hippocampal CA1 region of neonatal rats.  Alcohol. 44:283-90, 2010.

Valenzuela CF, Puglia MP, Zucca S.  Neurotransmitter Systems in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.  Alcohol Research and Health.  34, 106-120, 2011.


Travis Johnson, M.Sc.

Period of UNM-ARTN support: 08/01/2007-02/28/2009; mentors: Hamilton and Savage. Travis’ project investigated the effects of moderate prenatal alcohol exposure on signal transmission, field potentials, and single unit physiology in orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). Traves is currently pursuing graduate work in Religious Studies.

Selected Publications:

Hamilton, D. A., Akers, K. G., Johnson, T. E., Rice, J. P., Candelaria, F. T., Sutherland, R. J., Weisend, M. P., & Redhead, E. S. (2008). The relative influence of place and direction in the Morris water task. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 34, 31-53.

Hamilton, D. A., Akers, K. G., Johnson, T. E., Rice, J. P., Candelaria, F. T., & Redhead, E.S. Evidence for a shift from place navigation to directional responding in one variant of the Morris water task. J Exp Psychol: Anim Behav Process. 2009 Apr;35(2):271-8

Hamilton, D.A., Johnson, T.E., Redhead, E.S., & Verney, S.P. Control of human and rodent navigation by room and apparatus cues. Behav Processes. 2009 Jun;81(2):154-69.

Akers, K. G., Candelaria, F. T., Rice, J. P., Johnson, T. E., & Hamilton, D. A. Delayed development of place navigation compared to directional responding in preweanling rats. Behav Neurosci. 2009 Apr;123(2):267-75

Akers KG, Candelaria-Cook FT, Rice JP, Johnson TE, Hamilton DA.Cued platform training reveals early development of directional responding among preweanling rats in the morris water task. Dev Psychobiol. 2010 Aug 4. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 20687138

Hamilton DA, Akers KG, Rice JP, Johnson TE, Candelaria-Cook FT, Maes LI, Rosenberg M, Valenzuela CF, Savage DD. Prenatal exposure to moderate levels of ethanol alters social behavior in adult rats: relationship to structural plasticity and immediate early gene expression in frontal cortex. Behav Brain Res. 2010 Mar 5;207(2):290-304


Shirley Smith, B.Sc.

Period of UNM-ARTN support: 08/01/2008-07/31/10; mentor: Hutchison.  Shirley is a PhD student in the Psychology Department. She is doing research related to alcoholism treatment in adolescent and adult populations.  In the latter, she is studying the effect of olanzapine on craving and alcohol dependence.  Her current work is focused on integrating scientific research with clinical interventions (primarily Motivational Enhancement Therapy).  She is studying the relationship between genotype (BDNF specifically), neural structure (through magnetic resonance imaging) and drinking behaviors among adolescents.

Selected Publications:

Feldstein-Ewing, SW., Smith, SM. (In Press). Serving Dually Diagnosed Youth in the Juvenile Justice System. Book chapter in Handbook of Juvenile Forensic Psychology and Psychiatry.

Jung RE, Segall JM, Jeremy Bockholt H, Flores RA, Smith SM, Chavez RS, Haier RJ. 2009. Neuroanatomy of Creativity. Human Brain Mapping. 2010 Mar;31(3):398-409 (Epub ahead of print). PMCID: PMC2826582

Jung RE, Gasparovic C, Chavez RS, Flores RA, Smith SM, Caprihan A, Yeo RA. 2009. Biochemical support for the “threshold” theory of creativity: a magnetic resonance spectroscopy study. Journal of Neuroscience. 29(16): 5319-25. PMCID: PMC2755552


Miranda Staples, B.Sc.

Period of UNM-ARTN support: 08/01/2008-07/30/11; mentor: Savage.  Miranda is a PhD student in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program.  She has trained in a variety of experimental procedures including our prenatal ethanol exposure paradigm, one-trial contextual fear conditioning and Morris Water Tasks, and both RT-PCR and western blotting procedures on placental tissues from ethanol-consuming rat dams.  Her dissertation project focused on the interactive effects of maternal ethanol consumption and maternal stress on trace conditioning and trace-conditioning dependent changes in Arc expression and dentate granule cell dendritic morphology. She currently is a Postdoctoral Research Associate, Scripps Research Institute (F31 & F32 NRSA)

Selected Publications:

Rosenberg, M.J., Wolff, C.R., El-Emawy, A., Staples, M.C., Perrone-Bizzozero, N.I. and Savage, D.D.:  Effects of moderate drinking during pregnancy on placental gene expression.  Alcohol (2010). Nov-Dec;44(7-8):673-90.

Savage, D.D., Rosenberg, M.J., Wolff, C.R., Akers, K.G., El-Emawy, A.A., Staples, M.C., Varaschin, R.K., Wright, C.A., Seidel, J.L., Caldwell, K.K., and Hamilton, D.A.:  Effects of a novel cognition-enhancing agent on fetal ethanol-induced learning deficits.  Alcoholism: Clin. Exp. Res. 2010 Oct;34(10):1793-802.

Staples MC, Rosenberg MJ, Allen NA, Porch MW, Savage DD. Impact of combined prenatal ethanol and prenatal stress exposure on anxiety and hippocampal-sensitive learning in adult offspring. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2013 Dec;37(12):2039-47


Megan Brady, Ph.D.

Period of UNM-ARTN support: 08/01/2008-06/30/2011; mentor: Caldwell. Megan is a PhD student in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and her project aims to identify potential mechanisms underlying synaptic plasticity and cognitive functioning impairments that are associated with prenatal alcohol exposure, focusing on the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on the structure and function of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in the hippocampal dentate gyrus.  Previous studies have indicated that prenatal alcohol exposure may exert its effects on NMDA neurotransmission via effects on the subcellular localization of NMDA receptors.  Megan's project will include a series of analyses of NMDA receptor subcellular localization, protein-protein interactions and receptor-channel function.   Megan is was supported by an F31 predoctoral fellowship from NIAAA.  She defended her dissertation in the Spring of 2012 and is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Jacob laboratory at U. of Pittsburgh.

Selected Publications:

Brady ML, Allan AM, Caldwell KK (2012)  A limited access mouse model of prenatal alcohol exposure that displays long-lasting deficits in hippocampal-dependent learning and memory.  Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 36: 457-466. PMC Journal - In Process

Brady ML, Diaz MR, Everett JC, Valenzuela CF, Caldwell, KK. Moderate prenatal alcohol exposure reduces plasticity and alters NMDA receptor subunit composition in the dentate gyrus.  J. Neuroscience.  Submitted.


James Rice, Ph.D.

Period of UNM-ARTN support: 08/01/2009-07/31/2012; mentor: Hamilton. Jim’s projectsfocused on the effect of moderate prenatal alcohol exposure on reversal learning and social behavior in adult rats, and related neurobiological processes in the frontal cortex. Jim investigated the effect of moderate prenatal ethanol exposure on voluntary consumption of alcohol in adulthood and related reward circuitry in the striatum.  Jim investigated the effects of moderate fetal ethanol exposure on the dendritic morphology of medium spiny neurons in several regions of the striatum. Jim was supported by an F31 NRSA from NIAAA.  He currently is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Research Institute on Addiction, U at Buffalo.

Selected Publications:

Akers, K.G., Candelaria-Cook, F.T., Rice, J.P., Johnson, T.E., Hamilton, D.A.  Cued platform training reveals early deveopment of directional responding among preweanling rats in the Morris water task.  Dev. Pscyhobiol. 2011 Jan; 53(1): 1-12.

Hamilton, D.A., Candelaria-Cook, F.T., Akers, K.G., Rice, J.P., Maes, L.I., Rosenberg, M., Valenzuela, C.F., & Savage, D.D. (2010). Patterns of social-experience-related c-fos and Arc expression in the frontal cortices of rats exposed to saccharin or moderate levels of ethanol during prenatal brain development. Behavioural Brain Research, 2010 Dec 6; 214(1):66-74. PMCID: 20570698

Hamilton, D.A., Akers, K.G., Rice, J.P., Johnson, T.E., Candelaria-Cook, F.T., Maes, L.I., Rosenberg, M., Valenzuela, C.F., & Savage, D.D. (2010). Prenatal exposure to moderate levels of ethanol alters social behavior in adult rats: Relationship to structural plasticity and immediate early gene expression in frontal cortex. Behavioural Brain Research, 2010 Mar 5;207(2):290-304. Epub 2009 Oct 21. PMCID: PMC2815207 [Available on 2011/3/5]

Hamilton, D.A., Akers, K.G., Johnson, T.E., Rice, J.P., Candelaria, F.T., & Redhead, E.S. (2009). Evidence for a shift from place navigation to directional responding in one variant of the Morris water task. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 2009 Apr;35(2):271-8. PMCID: PMC Journal – In Process

Akers, K.G., Candelaria, F.T., Rice, J.P., Johnson, T.E., & Hamilton, D.A. (2009). Delayed development of place navigation compared to directional responding in preweanling rats. Behavioral Neuroscience, Apr;123(2):267-75. PMCID: PMC Journal – In Process

Rice JP, Suggs LE, Lusk AV, Parker MO, Candelaria-Cook FT, Akers KG, Savage DD, Hamilton DA. (2012) Effects of exposure to moderate levels of ethanol during prenatal brain development on dendritic length, branching, and spine density in the nucleus accumbens and dorsal striatum of adult rats.  Alcohol.  46:577-84.


Carrie Wright, Ph.D.

Carrie Wright is a fourth year BSGP student.  She joined the laboratory of Dr. Lee Anna Cunningham in Fall, 2010. Carrie’s dissertation project was focused on elucidating mechanism by which prenatal alcohol impairs enrichment-mediated neurogenesis in adult hippocampus.  Carrie presented a poster at the RSA-2011 meeting in Atlanta.  Carrie has joined the laboratory of Dr. Perrone-Bizzozero where she worked on a bioinformatics project related to schizophrenia research.  She currently is a Postdoctoral Fellow with Dan Weinberger at the Lieber Institute for Brain Development, Baltimore.

Publications:

Savage, D.D., Rosenberg, M.J., Wolff, C.R., Akers, K.G., El-Emawy, A.A., Staples, M.C., Varaschin, R.K., Wright, C.A., Seidel, J.L., Caldwell, K.K., and Hamilton, D.A.:  Effects of a novel cognition-enhancing agent on fetal ethanol-induced learning deficits.  Alcoholism: Clin. Exp. Res. 2010 Oct;34(10):1793-802.

Gupta CN, Chen J, Liu J, Damaraju E, Wright C, Perrone-Bizzozero NI, Pearlson G, Luo L, Michael AM, Turner JA, Calhoun VD. Genetic markers of white matter integrity in schizophrenia revealed by parallel ICA. Front Hum Neurosci. 2015 Mar 3;9:100. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2015.00100. eCollection 2015. PMID: 25784871


Christina Tyler, Ph.D.

Period of UNM-ARTN support: 08/01/2011-07/31/13; mentor: Allan.  Christina is a BSGP student.  She joined the laboratory of Dr. Allan in the fall of 2011.  Christina graduated from Fort Lewis College in 2006 with a B.Sc in Chemistry, a minor in Physics, and a license to teach secondary science.  Christina’s dissertation project focuses on epigenetic regulation of adult neurogenesis and FASD.  She was supported by an F31 NRSA.  She currently is a Postdoctoral Fellow, Neurobiology and Behavior, U of California,Irvine

Selected Publications:

Caldwell KK, Goggin SL, Tyler CR, Allan AM. Prenatal Alcohol Exposure Is Associated with Altered Subcellular Distribution of Glucocorticoid and Mineralocorticoid Receptors in the Adolescent Mouse Hippocampal Formation.  Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2014 Feb;38(2):392-400

Tyler CR, Allan AM. Adult hippocampal neurogenesis and mRNA expression are altered by perinatal arsenic exposure in mice and restored by brief exposure to enrichment. PLoS One. 2013 Sep 3;8(9):e73720


Brian Coffman, Ph.D.

Period of UNM-ARTN support: 05/01/2012-12/01/2013; mentor: Stephen. Brian was a Psychology graduate student with interests in neuroimaging of children and adolescents diagnosed with  FASD, particularly for identification of neurobiological mechanisms of sensory and cognitive dysfunction. He collected multimodal neuroimaging (MEG, fMRI, sMRI, DTI), genetic, and neuropsychological data from FASD patients.  He currently is a Postdoctoral Associate at the Dept of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh.

Publications:

V.P. Clark, B.A. Coffman, M.C. Trumbo, & C. Gasparovic (2011) Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) produces localized and specific alterations in neurochemistry: A 1H magnetic resonance spectroscopy study. Neuroscience Letters. 500:67-71

L.M. Bullard, A.J. van der Merwe, E.S. Browning, V.P. Clark, B.A. Coffman, R.E. Jung, C.M. Garcia, E.B. Kimball, K.M. Paulson, L.E. Petree, A.A. Vakhtin, C.L. Wootton, & M.P. Weisend (2011) Transcranial direct current stimulation’s effect on novice versus experienced learning. Experimental brain research, 213(1):9-13.

V.P. Clark, B.A. Coffman, C.M. Garcia, A. Van der Merwe, R. Barrow, V.D. Calhoun, D. Puffer, E.M. Raybourn, E.M. Wassermann, M. P. Weisend (2012) TDCS guided using fMRI significantly accelerates learning to identify concealed objects. NeuroImage. 59(1):119-128.

Coffman BA, Trumbo MC, Flores RA, Garcia CM, van der Merwe AJ, Wassermann EM, Weisend MP, Clark VP. Impact of tDCS on performance and learning of target detection: Interaction with stimulus characteristics and experimental design. Neuropsychologia. 2012 Mar 19. [Epub ahead of print]

J.M. Stephen, P.W. Kodituwakku, E.L. Kodituwakku, L Romero, A.M. Peters, N.M. Sharadamma, A. Caprihan,& B.A. Coffman (2012) Delays in Auditory Processing Identified in Preschool Children with FASD. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.  2012 Mar 28. [Epub ahead of print]

Falcone B, Coffman BA, Clark VP, Parasuraman R. Transcranial direct current stimulation augments perceptual sensitivity and 24-hour retention in a complex threat detection task. PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e34993.

Coffman BA, Trumbo MC, Clark VP. Enhancement of object detection with transcranial direct current stimulation is associated with increased attention. BMC Neurosci. 2012 Sep 10;13:108.

Stephen JM, Coffman BA, Stone DB, Kodituwakku P. Differences in MEG gamma oscillatory power during performance of a prosaccade task in adolescents with FASD. Front Hum Neurosci. 2013 Dec 25;7:900.

Hunter MA, Coffman BA, Trumbo MC, Clark VP. Tracking the neuroplastic changes associated with transcranial direct current stimulation: a push for multimodal imaging. Front Hum Neurosci. 2013 Aug 27;7:495.

Stephen JM, Coffman BA, Jung RE, Bustillo JR, Aine CJ, Calhoun VD. Using joint ICA to link function and structure using MEG and DTI in schizophrenia. Neuroimage. 2013 Dec;83:418-30

Coffman BA, Kodituwakku P, Kodituwakku EL, Romero L, Sharadamma NM, Stone D, Stephen JM. Primary visual response (M100) delays in adolescents with FASD as measured with MEG. Hum Brain Mapp. 2013 Nov;34(11):2852-62.

Coffman BA, Clark VP, Parasuraman R. Battery powered thought: enhancement of attention, learning, and memory in healthy adults using transcranial direct current stimulation. Neuroimage. 2014 Jan 15;85 Pt 3:895-908


Robert Oliver, B.A. in Biological Sciences and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago

Period of UNM-ARTN support: 08/01/2012-present; mentor: Perrone-Bizzozero. Robert is a Hispanic student who is in the fourth year of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program. He graduated in June 2011 from the U. of Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences (Specialization in Endocrinology) and a Minor in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (Specialization in Egyptology). His research interests lie in drug and alcohol addiction, with emphasis on micro-RNAs.  He is currently supported by a minority supplement from NIDA.

Posters:

R. J. Oliver, Jr,  R. M. Bastle, A. S. Gardiner, C. Wright, J. L. Saavedra, N. S. Pentkowski, A. M. Allan, J. L. Neisewander, N. I. Perrone-Bizzozero. miR-495, a post-transcriptional link between gene expression and the behavioral effects of cocaine.  Society for Neurosciences Meeting Planner, 2013.

A. S. Gardiner,  R. J. Oliver, Jr, N. I. Perrone-Bizzozero. MicroRNA-495 competes with the RNA-binding protein HuD for control of addiction related genes.  Society for Neurosciences Meeting Planner, 2013


Christina Tyler

Mentor(s):  Andrea Allan, Ph.D.

Graduate Program: BSGP

Project: Epigenetic regulation of adult neurogenesis and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

UNM-ARTN Support Period: 2011-2013

Christina graduated from Fort Lewis College in 2006 with a B.Sc in Chemistry, a minor in Physics, and a license to teach secondary science.  Christina’s dissertation project focused on epigenetic regulation of adult neurogenesis by prenatal exposure to alcohol or arsenic.  Christina used a moderate prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) model and subsequent ex vivo cell culture to assess expression of genes related to neurogenesis. Proliferating and differentiating neural progenitor cell culture conditions were established from telencephalic tissue derived from embryonic day (E) 15-17 tissue exposed to alcohol via maternal drinking throughout pregnancy. Eleven percent of genes on the array had significantly altered mRNA expression in the prenatal alcohol-exposed neural progenitor culture under proliferating conditions. These include reduced expression of Adora2a, Cxcl1, Dlg4, Hes1, Nptx1, and Vegfa and increased expression of Fgf13, Ndn, and Sox3; bioinformatics analysis indicated that these genes are involved in cell growth and proliferation. This study is the first demonstrate that moderate PAE during the equivalent to the 1st and 2nd trimesters of human pregnancy alters expression of genes involved in neural development and embryonic neurogenesis.  She also conducted several studies demonstrating that developmental arsenic exposure has very potent effects epigenetic machinery in the brain.  As a result of T32 support, Christina published a total 7 original research papers and 1 review paper (she was first authors in 7 of these; Table 5A). For these studies, she designed and conducted experiments, analyzed and interpreted data, and contributed to writing/editing the papers.  Christina was awarded an F31 predoctoral fellowship from NIMH.  She won the Partridge Neuroscience Travel Award (2013) and the Mountain West Society for Toxicology Travel Award (2013). Christina also designed and taught the graduate course “Epigenetics: the bridge between nature and nurture (Fall 2013).  She pursued postdoctoral training at the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, U. of California Irvine.  Christina currently is a postdoctoral fellow in the Bioscience Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory working on epigenetic regulation of algae proliferative capacity and lipid biosynthesis.

Selected Publications:

Caldwell KK, Goggin SL, Tyler CR, Allan AM., 2014, Prenatal alcohol exposure is associated with altered subcellular distribution of glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid receptors in the adolescent mouse hippocampal formation. Alcohol Clin Exp Res.38:392-400

Tyler CR, Allan AM., 2013, Adult hippocampal neurogenesis and mRNA expression are altered by perinatal arsenic exposure in mice and restored by brief exposure to enrichment. PLoS One. 8:e73720

Tyler CR, Allan AM., 2014, The Effects of Arsenic Exposure on Neurological and Cognitive Dysfunction in Human and Rodent Studies: A Review. Curr Environ Health Rep. 1:132-147.  Review.

Tyler CR, Solomon BR, Ulibarri AL, Allan AM., 2014, Fluoxetine treatment ameliorates depression induced by perinatal arsenic exposure via a neurogenic mechanism. Neurotoxicology. 44:98-109

Tyler CR, Allan AM., 2014, Prenatal alcohol exposure alters expression of neurogenesis-related genes in an ex vivo cell culture model. Alcohol. 48:483-92

Tyler CR, Hafez AK, Solomon ER, Allan AM., 2015, Developmental exposure to 50 parts-per-billion arsenic influences histone modifications and associated epigenetic machinery in a region- and sex-specific manner in the adult mouse brain. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 288:40-51

Tyler CR, Weber JA, Labrecque M, Hessinger JM, Edwards JS, Allan AM., 2015,

ChIP-Seq analysis of the adult male mouse brain after developmental exposure to arsenic. Data Brief. 2015 Sep 9;5:248-54

Tyler CR, Labrecque MT, Solomon ER, Guo X, Allan AM., 2017, Prenatal arsenic exposure alters REST/NRSF and microRNA regulators of embryonic neural stem cell fate in a sex-dependent manner. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 59:1-15

Oral Presentations:

Tyler, C.R. and Allan, A.M. Chronic developmental exposure to 50 ppb arsenic induces depressive-like behaviors and alterations in adult neurogenesis and gene expression in adult male mice.  Mountain West Society on Toxicology, September 2013

Poster Presentations:

Tyler, CR, Guo,X and Allan, AM Perinatal arsenic exposure results in depressive-like behaviors and reduces adult neurogenesis; treatment with imipramine and brief experience in an enriched environment rescues these deficits.  Society for Neuroscience October 2012.

Tyler, C.R. and Allan, A.M. Altered adult neurogenesis and mRNA expression, and depressive-like behaviors, are induced by perinatal arsenic exposure and rescued by chronic fluoxetine treatment. Society for Neuroscience November 2013.

Tyler CR, Allan AM. Perinatal arsenic exposure results in deficits in adult neurogenesis and learning and memory; brief experience in enrichment rescues these effects. 7th Conference on Metal Toxicity & Carcinogenesis, Albuquerque, NM, 2013

Tyler CR, Hafez A, Solomon B, Allan AM. Perinatal arsenic exposure alters histone acetylation, methylation, and associated chromatin modifying proteins in the adult mouse brain. 8th Conference on Metal Toxicity & Carcinogenesis, Albuquerque, NM, 2014

Tyler CR, Solomon B, Hafez A, Allan AM. Fluoxetine restores resilience to stress-induced depression after perinatal arsenic exposure via a neurogenic mechanism: epigenetic possibilities? Society for Neuroscience 2014.

Tyler CR, Solomon B, Hafez A, Allan AM. Developmental exposure to a low level of arsenic alters histone modifications and associated epigenetic machinery in a region- and sex-specific manner. Keystone Symposia Conference: Neuroepigenetics, Santa Fe, NM, 2015


Brian Coffman, Ph.D.

Mentor(s):  Julia Stephen, Ph.D.

Graduate Program: Psychology

Project: Identification of neurobiological mechanisms of sensory and cognitive dysfunction in patients with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) as measured with magnetoencephalography (MEG), magnetic resonance imaging, and neuropsychological assessment.

UNM-ARTN Support Period: 2012-2013

Brian obtained a B.Sc. degree in psychology from the U. of New Mexico in 2009.   Brian’s research focused on neuroimaging of children and adolescents diagnosed with FASD, particularly for identification of neurobiological mechanisms of sensory and cognitive dysfunction. He collected multimodal neuroimaging (MEG, fMRI, sMRI, DTI), genetic, and neuropsychological data for adolescents with an FASD and age-matched controls, as well as FASD children and healthy control children aged 3 to 6 years. Neurophysiological responses to auditory stimuli, somatosensory stimuli, and visual stimuli were measured using MEG, and the multidipole spatio-temporal modeling technique is being used to identify the location and timecourse of cortical activity in response to the sensory stimuli. The timing and amplitude of activity for the cortical sources associated with the response to these stimuli is then compared across groups. In the preliminary findings from this research, Brian and his mentor discovered a significant delay in primary auditory response (M100 and M200) latencies for the FASD children and adolescents relative to the HC children, as well as a significant delay in primary visual response (M100) latencies for FASD adolescents relative to HC adolescents. These findings suggest that sensory delays revealed by MEG in children with FASDs may prove to be a useful neural marker of information processing difficulties in young children with prenatal alcohol exposure. The fact that delayed auditory responses were observed across the FASD spectrum and age range suggests that it may be a sensitive measure of alcohol-induced brain damage at a wide age range. Therefore, these measures in conjunction with other clinical tools may prove useful for early and/or late identification of alcohol-affected children, particularly those without dysmorphia. Additionally, other neuroimaging, neuropsychological, and genetics data obtained in these studies, including DTI and cognitive fMRI data, can be used to elucidate further markers for FASD, which may prove sensitive and/or specific to the disorder.  Brian won an impressive number of awards during his studies (M.Sc. thesis defense, comprehensive examination, and dissertation defense all passed with distinction; FASD Study Group travel award in 2011; best paper written by a psychology graduate student in 2013; best poster at NYC Neuromodulation meeting in 2013, award for highest of number of publications by a psychology graduate student in 2013, RSA student merit award in 2014, and Haught distinguished graduate lecture award).  Importantly, the last portion of his Ph.D. studies was funded by an F31 fellowship from NIAAA.  While he was supported by the T32/F31 grants, he published 6 articles (1 as first author); to-date, he has been a co-author on 22 publications.  For these studies, he designed and conducted experiments, analyzed and interpreted data, and contributed to writing/editing the papers.  Importantly, his work significantly contributed to a funded R01 application by Drs. Stephen and Bahkrieva entitled: “Early Indices of Atypical Neurodevelopment with Fetal Alcohol Exposure”.   Brian is currently pursuing postdoctoral work in schizophrenia research at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Selected Publications:

Stephen JM, Kodituwakku PW, Kodituwakku EL, Romero L, Peters AM, Sharadamma NM, Caprihan A, Coffman BA., 2012, Delays in auditory processing identified in preschool children with FASD. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 36:1720-7

Coffman BA, Kodituwakku P, Kodituwakku EL, Romero L, Sharadamma NM, Stone D, Stephen JM., 2013, Primary visual response (M100) delays in adolescents with FASD as measured with MEG. Hum Brain Mapp. 34:2852-62

Stephen JM, Coffman BA, Jung RE, Bustillo JR, Aine CJ, Calhoun VD., 2013, Using joint ICA to link function and structure using MEG and DTI in schizophrenia. Neuroimage. 83:418-30

Stephen JM, Coffman BA, Stone DB, Kodituwakku P., 2013, Differences in MEG gamma oscillatory power during performance of a prosaccade task in adolescents with FASD. Front Hum Neurosci. 7:900

Stone DB, Coffman BA, Bustillo JR, Aine CJ, Stephen JM., 2014, Multisensory stimuli elicit altered oscillatory brain responses at gamma frequencies in patients with schizophrenia. Front Hum Neurosci. 8:788

Gao L, Sommerlade L, Coffman B, Zhang T, Stephen JM, Li D, Wang J, Grebogi C, Schelter B., 2015, Granger causal time-dependent source connectivity in the somatosensory network. Sci Rep. 5:10399

Oral Presentations:

B.A. Coffman; P. Kodituwakku; L. Kodituwakku; L. Romero; A. Peters; N. Sharadamma; & J.M. Stephen. Delayed Primary Visual Response in Adolescents with FASD: An investigation of Sensory Processing using MEG.  FASD Study Group Annual Meeting, June 2011, Atlanta, GA

B.A. Coffman. P. Kodituwakku. L. Kodituwakku, & J.M. Stephen (2013). Congenital Disinhibition: Response Inhibition, Impulsive Behavior, and Risky Decision-Making In Adolescents with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. 2013 NIAAA Training Directors Meeting and Trainee Workshop, San Diego, CA.

Posters at Scientific Meetings:

A.D. Bolanos, B.A. Coffman, J.F.L. Pinner, P. Kodituwakku, J.M. Stephen, (2015, October). Magnetoencephalography study on multisensory integration in adolescents with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Presented at the 45th Annual Society for Neuroscience National Meeting, Chicago, IL.

A.D. Bolanos, B.A. Coffman, J.F.L. Pinner, P. Kodituwakku, J.M. Stephen, (2015, June) Multisensory Integration in Adolescents with a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Presented at the 38th Annual RSA Scientific Meeting, San Antonio, TX.

A.D. Bolanos, B.A. Coffman, J.F.L. Pinner, P. Kodituwakku, J.M. Stephen, (2015, November) Altered Neural Oscillations during Multisensory Integration in Adolescents with a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Presented at the 2015 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), Seattle, WA.

A.D. Bolanos, B.A. Coffman, J.F.L. Pinner, P. Kodituwakku, J.M. Stephen, (2015, October) Magnetoencephalography study on multisensory integration in adolescents with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Presented at the 45th Annual Society for Neuroscience National Meeting, Chicago, IL.

A.D. Bolanos, B.A. Coffman, J.F.L. Pinner, P. Kodituwakku, J.M. Stephen, (2015, June) Multisensory Integration in Adolescents with a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Presented at the 38th Annual RSA Scientific Meeting, San Antonio, TX.

J.F.L Pinner; B.A. Coffman; A. Bolanos, P.W. Kodituwakku; J.M. Stephen.  Joint Independent Component Analysis (jICA) of brain structure and function in adolescents with FASD and healthy controls. RSA Meeting, San Antonio, TX, June 2015.

B.A. Coffman, M.A. Hunter, A.P. Jones, H.A. Saxon, K. Kolodjeski, B. Lockmiller, O. Khan, T. Collar, J.M. Stephen, & V.P. Clark (2013). Using Independent Components Analysis (ICA) to Remove Artifacts Associated with Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) from Electroencephalography (EEG) Data: A Comparison of ICA Algorithms. NYC Neuromodulation 2013 [Best poster award winner]

B.A. Coffman, D. Stone, L. Romero, J Bustillo, C.J. Aine, & J.M. Stephen (2013). Magnetoencephalography of Multisensory (AV) Responses in Schizophrenia Patients and Healthy Controls. 19th Annual Meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping.

B.A. Coffman, L. Romero, D. Stone, E. Kodituwakku, P. Kodituwakku, & J.M. Stephen (2013).Delayed Auditory Processing in Adolescents With Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). 35th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Research Society for Alcoholism.

B.A. Coffman, L. Romero, D. Stone, P. Kodituwakku, E. Kodituwakku, & J.M. Stephen (2012). Auditory Processing Delays in Adolescents with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. 18th International Conference for Biomagnetism.

B.A. Coffman, D. Stone, L. Romero, J. Bustillo, & J.M. Stephen (2012). Effects of Medication upon Low-Frequency Frontal Activity in Schizophrenia Patients. 18th International Conference for Biomagnetism.

B.A. Coffman, L. Romero, D. Stone, P. Kodituwakku, E. Kodituwakku, & J.M. Stephen (2012). Altered Functional Connectivity in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD): An Independent Components Analysis of Resting-State fMRI data. 42nd Annual Conference for the Society for Neuroscience.


 Lauren (Topper) Aragon

Mentor(s):  C. Fernando Valenzuela, M.D./Ph.D.

Graduate Program: BSGP

Project:  Developmental effects of ethanol on the hippocampus

UNM-ARTN Support Period: 2011-2015

Lauren joined the laboratory of Dr. Valenzuela in Fall, 2011. She graduated from Michigan State University in 2010 with a B.Sc in Biochemisty and Molecular Biology.  Lauren’s dissertation project focused.  Lauren graduated from Michigan State University in 2010 with a B.Sc. in Biochemisty and Molecular Biology.  Lauren’s dissertation project focused on the effects of developmental ethanol exposure on neuroinflammation in different brain regions. Specifically, she assessed the impact of third trimester-equivalent ethanol exposure impact on microglia and astrocytes, which undergo significant maturation during this period of development.  In the first study, we found that moderate ethanol exposure during the 3rd trimester equivalent blunted the neuroimmune response to bacterial lipopolysaccharide in the frontal cortex (but not in the dentate gyrus or cerebellum) of female rats. Taken together with the literature, these findings suggest that chronic exposure to lower levels is less disruptive to the neuroimmune system than binge-like exposure to high doses of alcohol.  We then exposed rats to higher doses of ethanol vapor during P3-P5 and found that this exposure paradigm does not cause neuronal loss in the dentate gyrus, CA3 and CA1 regions at either P6 or P45; however, it did cause Purkinje cell degeneration in the cerebellar vermis. Significant increases in pro-inflammatory cytokines were observed in both brain regions during alcohol withdrawal periods. Although astrocyte activation occurred in both the hippocampus and cerebellar vermis, microglial activation was observed primarily in the latter. The paradigm caused alterations in hippocampal (contextual fear conditioning) and cerebellar (locomotion and gait) behavioral tests. These findings suggest that heavy, binge-like 3rd trimester-equivalent alcohol exposure has time- and brain region-dependent effects on cytokine levels, morphological activation of microglia and astrocytes, and neuronal survival. For these studies, she designed and conducted experiments, analyzed and interpreted data, and contributed to writing/editing the papers.  She published a total of 4 papers (2 as first author).  Lauren presented her findings at the Volterra Alcohol and Stress Conference in May 2014, under the support of a travel award.  She was a postdoctoral fellow in the College of Pharmacy at UNM, where she demonstrated that serum-borne bioactivity caused by pulmonary multiwalled carbon nanotubes induces neuroinflammation via blood-brain barrier impairment (Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Mar 7;114(10):E1968-E1976). Lauren then moved to the east coast where she is working as a PubMed Central Journal Review Program Coordinator at the National Library of Medicine

Selected Publications:

Valenzuela CF, Morton RA, Diaz MR, Topper L., 2012, Does moderate drinking harm the fetal brain? Insights from animal models. Trends Neurosci. 35:284-92. Review.

Morton RA, Diaz MR, Topper LA, Valenzuela CF., 2014, Construction of vapor chambers used to expose mice to alcohol during the equivalent of all three trimesters of human development. J Vis Exp. Jul 13;(89).

Topper LA, Valenzuela CF., 2014, Effect of repeated alcohol exposure during the third trimester-equivalent on messenger RNA levels for interleukin-1β, chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2, and interleukin 10 in the developing rat brain after injection of lipopolysaccharide. Alcohol. 48:773-80

Topper LA, Baculis BC, Valenzuela CF., 2015, Exposure of neonatal rats to alcohol has differential effects on neuroinflammation and neuronal survival in the cerebellum and hippocampus. J Neuroinflammation.  2:16

Oral Presentations: 

Topper L. Chronic ethanol exposure during the 3rd trimester-equivalent promotes neuroinflammation in the rat dentate gyrus. FASD Study Group Satellite Meeting, Orlando, FL, 2013.

Topper L. Repeated alcohol exposure during the 3rd trimester-equivalent alters inflammatory signaling pathways in the rat dentate gyrus.  NIAAA National Trainee Meeting, San Diego, CA, 2013.        

Topper L., Regional differences in ethanol-induced pro-inflammatory cytokine expression and cell death in the developing rat brain.  In Symposium: “You Talkin’ to Me? Neural-Immune Crosstalk in Alcohol Actions at Different Life Stages” (Organizers: C. F. Valenzuela and D. Sarkar).  RSA Meeting, San Antonio, TX, June 2015.

Poster Presentations:

Topper L, Caldwell KK, Valenzuela CF. Effects of moderate prenatal ethanol exposure on kainate receptor function in the CA3 hippocampal region.  Alcoholism Clin Exp Res 36 (6 Suppl): P793 (Page 209A). 2012.

Topper L, J. Everett, K. Caldwell, G. Swanson, C.F. Valenzuela. Effects of moderate prenatal ethanol exposure on kainate receptors in the CA3 hippocampal region. Society for Neuroscience Abstract Planner. October, 2012

Topper L, Valenzuela CF, Repeated ethanol exposure during the 3rd trimester-equivalent alters inflammatory signaling pathways in the rat dentate gyrus.  Alcoholism Clin Exp Res 37 (2 Suppl): P623 (Page 166A). 2013

Topper L; Valenzuela C.F., Repeated alcohol exposure during the 3rd trimester-equivalent alters inflammatory signaling pathways in the rat dentate gyrus. Society for Neuroscience. November, 2013.

Topper L; Valenzuela C.F.. Binge alcohol exposure during the 3rd trimester-equivalent increases levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine il-10 in the rat hippocampus.  Alcohol and Stress Conference, Volterra, Italy, May 2014.


Robert Oliver, B.A.  

Mentor(s):  Nora Perrone-Bizzozero, Ph.D.

Graduate Program: Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program

Project: miR-495 and HuD: post-transcriptional regulation of genes, plasticity and behavior in the context of substance abuse

UNM-ARTN Support Period: August, 2012-July 2015

Robert is a Hispanic student from El Paso, TX, who graduated from the University of Chicago in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences (Specialization in Endocrinology) and a Minor in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (Specialization in Egyptology).  His research interests lie in drug and alcohol addiction, with emphasis on micro-RNAs.  Robert completed the Developmental Neurotoxicology course in the Fall of 2013 and the Neurobiology of Alcoholism course in the Fall of 2012.  He passed his comprehensive exam in 2015 and advanced to candidacy.  Robert’s research interests lie in addiction, with emphasis on micro-RNAs. Using an in silico approach, he identified miR-495 as a miRNA whose predicted targets are significantly enriched in addiction.  This small non-coding RNA was also found to be highly expressed within the nucleus accumbens (NAc).  Robert measured miR-495 expression in response to acute cocaine in mice and found that it is downregulated rapidly and selectively in the NAc, along with concomitant increases in addiction-related gene expression. Lentiviral-mediated miR-495 overexpression in the NAc shell not only reversed these cocaine-induced effects but also downregulated multiple ARG mRNAs in specific substance use disorder-related biological pathways. miR-495 expression was also downregulated in the NAc shell of rats following cocaine self-administration. Most importantly, he found that NAcsh miR-495 overexpression suppressed the motivation to self-administer and seek cocaine across progressive ratio, extinction and reinstatement testing.  For this study, Robert designed and conducted experiments, analyzed and interpreted data, and contributed to writing/editing the high impact paper reporting these findings (Table 5A).  He is currently writing another manuscript detailing the role of HuD, a neuronally enriched RNA-binding protein, in the regulation of cocaine conditioned place preference behavior and gene expression. In collaboration with a post-doctoral researcher in the laboratory, he is also writing a larger paper detailing the competition of HuD and miR-495 in the context of addiction-related behaviors.  After completing 3 years of T32 support, Robert has been supported by a minority supplement and an F31 predoctoral fellowship, both from NIDA. He spent a great deal of time practicing his presentation skills through the various BSGP and departmental research days, including a couple award-winning presentations. He also attended the Vulnerability Issues in Drug Abuse among Hispanics (VIDA) meeting at the University of Texas at El Paso. In 2016, he attended a Science and Healthcare funding advocacy meeting in Washington DC as well as the NIDA genetics consortium this last Dec. He has also attended and presented at every SfN meeting since he has started in the program. He was awarded a NIDA Diversity Scholars Travel award to attend the NIAAA-NIDA Frontiers in Addiction Satellite meeting (SfN Meeting, 2016). Finally, Rob developed his teaching skills while he served as a TA for Biomed 509-Principles of Neurobiology. Transferring this experience to the laboratory, Rob has helped mentor 11 undergraduates and rotating graduate students, all of them being underrepresented minorities.  Robert is currently applying for a postdoctoral position in substance abuse-related research (including the NIDA Intramural Laboratories).

Selected Publications:

Bastle RM*, Oliver RJ*, Gardiner AS, Pentkowski NS, Bolognani F, Allan AM, Chaudhury T, St Peter M, Galles N, Smith C, Neisewander JL, Perrone-Bizzozero NI., 2017, In silico identification and in vivo validation of miR-495 as a novel regulator of motivation for cocaine that targets multiple addiction-related networks in the nucleus accumbens. Mol Psychiatry. Jan 3. doi: 10.1038/mp.2016.238. [Epub ahead of print] *co-first author.

Oral Presentations:

R. J. Oliver. Understanding the function of genes associated with addiction: Identifying new therapeutic targets.” Science and Healthcare funding advocacy meeting in Washington DC. Jun. 2016.

Poster Presentations:

R. J. Oliver et al. Neuronal enriched RNA-binding protein HuD and microRNA miR-495 oppositely regulate cocaine induced addiction-related gene expression and place preference behavior. National Institute of Drug Abuse Genetics Consortium 2016.

R. J. Oliver et al. Neuronal enriched RNA-binding protein HuD and microRNA miR-495 oppositely regulate cocaine induced addiction-related gene expression and place preference behavior. Society for Neuroscience 2016.

R. J. Oliver et al. Neuronal specific RNA-binding protein HuD regulates addiction-related target mRNAs, structural plasticity, and cocaine addiction-related behaviors. Society for Neuroscience 2015.

R. J. Oliver et al. Nucleus Accumbens miR-495: Post-transcriptional regulation of mRNA, plasticity, and behavior.” NIDA Diversity Supplement Meeting 2015.

R. J. Oliver et al. Regulation of miR-495 and addiction-related target mRNAs following exposure to cocaine.” Society for Neuroscience 2014.

R. J. Oliver et al. Nucleus Accumbens miR-495: A post-transcriptional link between genes and the behavioral effects of cocaine.” University of Texas at El Paso Vulnerability Issues in Drug Abuse among Hispanics (VIDA). 2014.

R. J. Oliver, Jr,  R. M. Bastle, A. S. Gardiner, C. Wright, J. L. Saavedra, N. S. Pentkowski, A. M. Allan, J. L. Neisewander, N. I. Perrone-Bizzozero. miR-495, a post-transcriptional link between gene expression and the behavioral effects of cocaine.  Society for Neurosciences 2013.

A. S. Gardiner, R. J. Oliver, Jr, N. I. Perrone-Bizzozero. MicroRNA-495 competes with the RNA-binding protein HuD for control of addiction related genes.  Society for Neurosciences 2013.


Kristin L. Marquardt, B.Sc. 

Mentor(s):  Jonathan Brigman, Ph.D.

Graduate Program: Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program

Project: Impact of prenatal ethanol exposure on executive function in mice

UNM-ARTN Support Period: August, 2013-July 2016

Kristin graduated from the University of Denver in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Minors in Psychology and Chemistry. She completed the Developmental Neurotoxicology course in the Fall of 2013, and the Neurobiology of Alcoholism course in the Fall of 2014.  Kristin completed her comprehensive exam on February, 2015 and advanced to candidacy. To investigate the effects of prenatal ethanol exposure (PAE) on learning and executive control, she used a drinking in the dark paradigm. She found that both PAE and saccharin control female offspring were slower than males to discriminate between two stimuli in a visual touch-screen discrimination task, but PAE did not impair associative learning in either sex. However, PAE significantly impaired the early phase of reversal learning, where cortical control is most required to flexibly alter choice behavior. PAE mice showed a significant increase in maladaptive perseverative responses but showed intact learning of the new association during late reversal. Overall, Kristin was a first author on 3 research papers and a review; for these studies, she designed and conducted experiments, analyzed and interpreted data, contributed to writing of the papers, and edited the final version (Table 5A).  Moreover, she is currently writing another manuscript describing the results of her in vivo electrophysiological studies of control and PAE mice obtained while they were engaged in the touch-screen task. These studies revealed that cortico-striatal coordination is disrupted after PAE and may be the underlying cause of inefficient cognitive control over striatal driven behaviors during early reversal learning. For these studies, she designed and conducted experiments, analyzed and interpreted data. During the last year of her PhD studies, Kristin was funded by a F31 predoctoral fellowship from NIAAA. Kristin has attended several career developmental activities, including a Grantsmanship workshop offered at UNM in 2014, the student lunch at RSA in 2014 and 2015 and the 2015 Plexon Technology Workshop. In addition, she is highly involved in community outreach, participating in local Café Scientifique (2016) and the Brain Bee Competition (2014-2015), programs aimed at introducing high school students to neuroscience. Yearly, Kristin has participated in the UNM Neuroscience day and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder day, focused on broad community outreach, including teachers and parents. Furthermore, Kristin was a teaching assistant for a first year graduate course from 2014-2016 focusing on paper critique and scientific presenting and mentored a McNair scholar undergraduate in the lab from 2014-2015. Kristin will pursue postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Judson Chandler at MUSC under the support of an NIAAA T32 grant.

Selected Publications:

Marquardt, K., Saha, M., Mishina, M., Young, J. W., Brigman, J. L., 2014, Loss of GluN2A-containing NMDA receptors impairs extra-dimensional set-shifting. Genes, Brain and Behavior. 13:611-7

Marquardt, K., Sigdel, R., Caldwell, K., Brigman, J. L., 2014, Moderate prenatal ethanol exposure impairs cortically mediated behavioral flexibility. Alcohol: Clinical and Experimental Research. 38:2962-8

Marquardt, K., Brigman, J. L., 2016, The impact of prenatal alcohol exposure on social, cognitive and affective behavioral domains: Insights from rodent models. Alcohol. 51:1-15. Review

Marquardt K, Sigdel R, Brigman JL., 2017, Touch-screen visual reversal learning is mediated by value encoding and signal propagation in the orbitofrontal cortex. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2017 Mar;139:179-188

Poster Presentations:

Marquardt, K., Cavanagh, J., Caldwell, K., Brigman, J.L. Cortical GluN2B contribution to reversal learning in prenatal alcohol exposure. Abstract for poster presentation, 2016 Society for Neuroscience. San Diego, CA.

Marquardt, K., Cavanagh, J., Caldwell, K., Brigman, J.L. Orbitofrontal and dorsolateral striatum circuit dynamics during reversal behavior after prenatal alcohol exposure. Abstract for poster presentation, 2016 Gordon Research Conference: Neurobiology of Alcoholism. Galveston, TX.

Marquardt, K., Sigdel, R., Cavanagh, J., Caldwell, K., Brigman, J. L. Delayed orbital frontal cortex recruitment allows for dorsal striatum to drive behavioral inflexibility in prenatal alcohol exposed mice. Abstract for poster presentation, 2015 Society for Neuroscience. Chicago,IL.

Marquardt, K., Sigdel, R., Cavanagh, J., Caldwell, K., Brigman, J. L. Altered neuronal dynamics underlying impaired behavioral flexibility after prenatal alcohol exposure. Abstract for poster presentation, 2015 Research Society on Alcoholism. San Antonio, TX.

Marquardt, K., Sigdel, R., Cavanagh, J., Caldwell, K., Brigman, J. L. Impaired behavioral flexibility and altered cortical firing in a murine moderate prenatal alcohol exposure model. Poster presented at 2014 Society for Neuroscience. Washington, D.C.

Marquardt K., Sigdel R, Caldwell KK, Brigman JL. Moderate prenatal alcohol exposure alters cortical firing and impairs executive control in adulthood. Poster presented at 2014 Research Society on Alcoholism Annual Meeting, Belleview, WA.