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Administration Basic Sciences Clinical Sciences Centers of Excellence


Current Trainees

Predoctoral Trainees



  Katie Adler, MAT (Dr. Liz Simon - Mentor)

Program: MS Biomedical Sciences

BA: University of California Berkely

MAT: University of Southern California


Research project: Alcohol-induced epigenetic dysregulation of
muscle stem cell differentiation in SIV-infected Rhesus macaques




Muscle dysfunction is a significant clinical concern in people living with HIV (PLWH) and those with alcohol use
disorder (AUD). My research utilizes a rhesus macaque model of SIV infection and chronic binge alcohol
administration to determine their independent and interactive effects on muscle stem cell differentiation. My
aim is to determine the mechanism causing impaired muscle repair in order to identify possible treatment
options to study in the future.



Brittany Foret, MS

Program: MD/PhD

MS: University of  Louisiana at Lafayette
        -Major: Biology/Neuroscience


Research project: Effects of chronic binge alcohol on HIV-associated
neuropathic pain using a rhesus macaque model of chronic binge
alcohol and SIV-infection.




HIV-associated neuropathic pain is the most common neurological complication associated with HIV infection,
but the underlying mechanism for this complication remains unknown. My research utilizes a rhesus macaque
model of SIV infection to elucidatethe disruptions of HIV-associated neuropathic pain in the CNS, and explore
how chronic binge alcohol exacerbates these disruptions.My long-term goal is to become a physician scientist,
using translational research to explore neuropsychiatric disorders with hopes of developing and improving
therapies used in the clinic.





Jonquil Poret, MS

Program: PhD

MS: Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans

BS: Xavier University of Louisiana

Research project: Alcohol-induced metabolic dysfunction in adipose tissue
of SIV-infected Rhesus macaques



Metabolic dysfunction/comorbidities are a signficant concern in people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and those
who classify as having an alcohol use disorder (AUD).  My research utilizes a rhesus macaque model of SIV infection
and chronic binge alcohol consumption to determine their independent, as well as, their combined effects on adipose 
tissue metabolic dysfunction.  My goal is to determine the mechanism by which metabolic dysfunction is induced in an 
effort to identify possible therapeutic targets for future studies.


Postdoctoral Fellows



   Elizabeth Fucich, PhD

Program: NIAAA-funded T32 Biomedical Alcohol Research Training Program
PhD: University of Texas Health Science Center of San Antonio–                  -Major: Neuroscience
Research project: Effects of stress on traumatic brain injury-induced alcohol drinking and anxiety in rats


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 idenifying ways to improve negative outcomes of these concurrent conditions.  My long-term goal is to improve treatments for overlapping psychiatric illnesses like alcohol use disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder.


   Danielle Levitt-Budnar, PhD (Dr. Liz Simon - Mentor)

Program: NIAAA-funded T32 Biomedical Alcohol Research Training Program

PhD: University of North Texas
           -Concentration: Exercise Physiology

Research project: Alcohol and gonadal hormone loss mediated mechanism of metabolic dysregulation in SIV


My long-term research interest is to elucidate alcohol-mediated mechanisms of metabolic dysregulation in order to develop effective methods to counteract such changes in health and disease states.  Currently, my research focuses on alcohol and gonadal hormone loss-mediated mechanism of mitochondrial dysregulation in insulin-producing and insulin-sensitive tissues using a simian model of HIV.


   Derrick Samuelson, PhD

PhD: Washington State University
           -Major:  Molecular Biosciences
Research project: Mechanisms by alcohol-induced dysbiosis impairs host defence against Klebsiella pneumoniae.


My research addresses the mechanisms underlying the alcohol-mediated intestinal dysbiosis impairment of pulmonary host defense Klebsiella pneumoniae.  I am also particularly interested in the mechanism by which the intestinal microbiota mediate immune regulation along the gut-lung axis.  My long-term goal is to understand the intestinal microbiota contribute to pulmonary host defense and to develop novel probiotic interventions for improved pulmonary host defense.