The Biomedical Alcohol Research Training Program - Current Trainees 2015-2016



Postdoctoral Fellows

Elizabeth A Fucich, Ph.D.

Degree: Ph.D., Pharmacology, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
Advisor: Patricia Molina, Ph.D.
Research: Traumatic brain injury and alcohol use
Department: Physiology

E Fucich2

My research addresses the neural mechanisms underlying the interaction between traumatic brain injury and alcohol use. I am also interested in how stress interacts with this relationship as well as identifying ways to improve negative outcomes of these concurrent conditions.


Amanda R. Pahng, Ph.D.

Degree: Ph.D., Neuroscience Program, Tulane University
Advisors: Scott Edwards, Ph.D.
Research:Neurobiological mechanisms of altered cognitive behavior and relapse propensity in alcohol dependence
Department: Physiology


My long-term research interest is to determine how specific cellular changes influence cognitive deficits and relapse propensity in alcohol-dependent animals. In addition, I am interested in investigating cognitive mechanisms affected by chronic pain in rodents as well as altered signaling in reward-, pain-, and cognition-related circuitry in non-human primate models of HIV/alcohol comorbidity.


James D. Watt, Ph.D.

Degree: PhD., (Environmental Health) Boston University School of Public Health
Advisors: Martin Ronis, Ph.D.
Research:Adverse effects of alcohol and oxidative stress on bone health
Department: Pharmacology


My research investigates the mechanisms by which alcohol and oxidative stress decrease bone quality. I'm using several transgenic mouse models to identify important enzymes, pathways, and therapeutic targets that maintain bone growth and maintenance, and determining how these factors are perturbed by ethanol exposure.


Predoctoral Fellows

Vincent Maffei, B.S.

Degree: BS 2011  Emory University
Mentor: Christopher Taylor, Ph.D. and David Welsh, M.D.
Research: Aging in the Intestinal Flora
Status: M.D./Ph.D. Student, Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology



I plan to test the hypothesis that alimentary tract dysbiosis associated with alcohol use disorder (AUD) accelerates HIV-induced precocious aging using samples being collected in the ongoing CARC translational study


M. Adrienne McGinn, B.S.

Degree: BS, University of New Orleans
Mentor: Scott Edwards, Ph.D.
Research: Role of neuronal stress signaling in chronic pain and drug addiction
Status: PhD Student, Department of Physiology. 



My research project is focused on examining the biobehavioral processes underlying alcohol dependence and pain co-morbidity, and understanding potential sex-specific mechanistic differences within these conditions. I specifically examine signaling events at the protein-level in brain regions implicated in the development and maintenance of the addicted state and aim to determine how these molecular neuroadaptations affect behavior.

Van Ninh, B.S.

Degree: B.S., Louisiana State University
Mentor: Jason Gardner, Ph.D.
Research: Effects of Lysyl Oxidase on Cardiac Fibrosis
Status: Graduate Student, Department of Physiology

VanNinh (2)

My research project focuses on the effects of alcohol on cardiac remodeling following a heart attack. I am currently involved in projects evaluating alcoholic cardiomyopathy.

Zachary Stielper, B.S.

Degree: B.S., Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport, LA
Mentor: Nicholas Gilpin, Ph.D. and Patricia Molina, M.D., Ph.D.
Research:  The Role of Amygdalar Endocannabinoids in Alcohol Drinking after Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Status: MD/PhD  Student, Department of Physiology

VanNinh (2)

My research focuses on the impact of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the brain of alcohol consumers. Specifically, I am investigating dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system within the amygdala as a potential mechanism by which TBI can drive post-injury increases in alcohol consumption.

Paul Stoulig, B.S.

Degree: B.S., University of Southern Mississippi
Mentor: Patricia Molina, M.D., Ph.D.
Research:  Molecular mechansim that mediates neuroinflammation in TBI and Alcohol
Status: Graduate Student, Department of Physiology

VanNinh (2)