Department of Physiology Postdoctoral Fellows

Alejandra Jacotte Simancas, PhD

Degree: PhD, Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain
Advisor: Patricia Molina, MD, PhD and Nicholas Gilpin, PhD
Research: Traumatic brain injury and alcohol use
Department: Physiology

Currently, my research seeks to elucidate the neurobiological mechanisms underlying escalation of post-TBI alcohol drinking.

alejandra close up

Andrea Jones, PhD

Degree: PhD, Tulane University School of Medicine
Advisor: Nicholas Gilpin, PhD
Research: The role of the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) in chronic inflammatory pain
Department: Physiology

The goal of my research is to determine how the MC4R changes with chronic pain. I am interested in sex- and age-specific differences in the way the MC4R functions within brain circuits associated with chronic inflammatory pain. Additionally, I am interested in the role of alcohol use disorder in the transition from acute to chronic pain. 

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Danielle E. Levitt, PhD

Degree: PhD, University of North Texas
Advisors: Patricia Molina, MD, PhD, and Liz Simon, PhD
Research: Alcohol-induced skeletal muscle dysregulation in SIV/HIV: Mitochondrial-mediated mechanisms
Department: Physiology
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 mechanisms of mitochondrial dysregulation in insulin-producing and insulin-sensitive tissues using a simian model of HIV.

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Cropped COE picture

Patrick McTernan, PhD

Degree: PhD, University of Georgia
Advisors: Patricia Molina, MD, PhD
Research: Health effects of alcohol use disorder (AUD) and HIV
Department: Physiology
Currently, the goal of my research is to understand the alcohol-related mechanisms that dysregulate CD4+ T cell metabolism and differentiation, leading to the priming of target cells for HIV/SIV.

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Christian Montanari, PhD

Degree: PhD, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy
Advisor: Nicholas Gilpin, PhD
Research: Effects of chronic nicotine on alcohol intake in rats
Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS or e-cigarettes); nicotine e-vape delivery and self-administration in rats
Department: Physiology

I am interested in the rewarding, motivational and inhibitory behaviors and in their neurobiological basis, both in normal conditions and in neurological and psychiatric illnesses as drug addiction and PTSD. My work at LSUHSC will model in rats the human nicotine and alcohol co-abuse, and it will investigate its neurobiological, cellular and molecular bases.

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Franciely Paliarin, PhD

Degree: PhD, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil
Advisor: Rajani Maiya, PhD
Research: The molecular mechanisms that underlie social defeat stress-induced escalation of alcohol consumption
Department: Physiology

The goal of my research is to understand molecular mechanisms that underlie alcohol use disorders and stress-escalated drinking.

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Sydney Vita, PhD

Degree: PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center
Advisors: Nicholas Gilpin, PhD and Patricia Molina, MD, PhD
Research: Binge alcohol and traumatic brain injury effects of the adolescent brain
Department: Physiology

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Marcus Weera, PhD

Degree: PhD Purdue University
Advisors: Nicholas Gilpin, PhD
Research: Neural mechanisms underlying substance use and co-morbid disorders.
Department: Physiology

I am interested in elucidating the neural circuits and neurobiological  factors that underlie substance (primarily alcohol) use disorders. Further, my research seeks to understand the neural bases of co-morbid substance use and psychiatric (e.g. post-traumatic stress) disorders, as well as between different types of substance use disorders. The goal of my research is to inform prevention and treatment strategies for substance use and related psychiatric disorders.

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Former Post-Doctoral Fellows

Kandasamy Neelamegam, PhD

Degree: PhD, Annamalai University, India
Advisors: Jason Gardner, PhD, Xinping Yue, MD, PhD, Eric Lazartigues, PhD


Currently Post-Doctoral Associate
Department of Internal Medicine
Texas Tech University Health Science Center


Elizabeth Delery, PhD

Degree: PhD, Tulane University School of Medicine
Advisor: Scott Edwards, PhD

Currently Assistant Professor of Microbiology & Immunology College of Osetopathic Medicine at Marian University.

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Elizabeth A Fucich, PhD

Degree: Ph.D., UTHSC-San Antonio
Advisor: Patricia Molina, PhD
Research: Traumatic brain injury and alcohol use

Currently Professor of Practice in Neuroscience at Tulane University.

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Amanda R. Pahng, PhD

Degree: Ph.D., Tulane University 
Advisor: Scott Edwards, PhD

Currently Research Health Scientist Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System

Joshua Oakes, PhD

Degree:  PhD, Baylor College of Medicine
Advisor: Jason Gardner, PhD and Xinping Yue, PhD
Udita Datta, PhD

Degree:  PhD, Bowling Green State University
Advisor: Nicholas Gilpin, PhD
Matthew Auten, MD, PhD

Degree: PhD, LSUHSC-New Orleans
              MD from LSUHSC May 2016
Advisor: Patricia Molina, MD, PhD.

Currently a Pathology resident at West Virginia University School of Medicine.
Emily A. Roltsch Helland, PhD

Degree: PhD, Texas A&M University
Advisor: Nicholas Gilpin, PhD

Currently working as a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Jun Wang at Texas A&M University.

Megan L. Armstrong, PhD

Degree: : Ph.D., University of Florida
Advisor: Patricia Molina, MD, PhD

Currently working in private practice as a clinical psychologist

Tracy Y. Dodd, PhD

Degree:  PhD, University of South Alabama
Advisor: Patricia Molina, PhD

Currently a medical student at LSUHSC-New Orleans.

Paige S. Katz, PhD

Degree: Ph.D., LSUHSC-New Orleans
Advisor: Patricia Molina, MD, PhD

Currently Associate Director and Medical Science Liasion at Novartis Oncology.


Christy A. Itoga, PhD

Degree:  PhD, University of Michigan
Advisor: Nicholas Gilpin, PhD

Currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California-Irvine.


Annie Whitaker, PhD

Degree: PhD, LSUHSC-New Orleans
Advisor: Nicholas Gilpin, PhD

Currently a biology teacher at St. Scholastica Academy.


Karina Villalba, MPH, PhD

Degree:  PhD, Florida International University
Advisor: Patricia Molina, MD, PhD

Currently working at Florida International University.

Anthony A. Duplanty, PhD

Degree:  Ph.D., University of North Texas
Advisor: Patricia Molina, MD, PhD

Currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at Texas Women's University.
Anthony Duplanty Photo