Pilot-Project Investigators

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Tierney Lorenz

Dr. Tierney LorenzPredictors of sex-linked marijuana and alcohol use in sexual minority and heterosexual women

Dr. Lorenz is an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department and Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her lab, the Women, Immunity and Sexual Health (WISH) lab, examines the interaction between women's mental, physical and sexual health, including the ways that sexual behavior impacts women's immune and endocrine function, as well as ways to help women with mental and/or physical health conditions have happy, healthy sexual lives.

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Roberto Abadie

Dr. Roberto AbadieAn ethnographic exploration of Opioid Agonist Treatment barriers and facilitators among opioid users in rural Nebraska

As a trained medical anthropologist, Dr. Abadie's research focuses on how different forms of social stratification, in particular, class, race, and ethnicity, contribute to produce and reproduce health inequalities in marginalized populations. He has conducted extensive fieldwork on the ethics of clinical trials, HIV risk, People Who Inject Drugs (PWID), and health disparities among Latino populations in a variety of settings in Latin America, the Caribbean and the US.

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Palsamy Periyasamy

Dr. Palsamy PeriyasamyCocaine-mediated microglial activation involves epigenetic dysregulation of DNMT1/IncRNA Xist/PPARG signaling axis

Dr. Palsamy Periyasamy is an Instructor (Prof. Shilpa Buch’s Lab) in the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neuroscience, UNMC. His long-term goal is to investigate the epigenetic changes that occurred during HIV-1 infection and drug abuse leading to glial cells (microglia and astrocytes) activation and to identify potential therapeutic strategies for HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND) treatment.

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Sowmya Yelamanchili

Dr. Sowmya YelamanchiliSex specific brain derived extracellular vesicle markers associated with chronic methamphetamine use

The long term goals of my independent research program are to understand the role of regulatory molecules such as genes, proteins and microRNAs in the pathogenesis of neurological disorders and in the field of drug addiction, specifically methamphetamine abuse. Over the last six years, my lab has been extensively studying the role of extracellular vesicles (EVs) which express a repertoire of cargo (cf. proteins, miRNA, lipids etc.) in an array of neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders. My lab uses various model systems including human biospecimens, rhesus macaques in addition to rodent models and in vitro based approaches to study brain dysfunction associated with chronic drug use. On these lines, my own research program focuses on investigating the role of extracellular vesicles in chronic methamphetamine (meth) abuse as well as sex differences associated with meth relapse. My lab has also shown significant success in standardizing EV isolation and characterizing the role of brain derived EVs (BDEs) in an array of neurological disorders cf. NeuroAIDS, Traumatic Brain Injury and in Methamphetamine/ Prescription opioid/Nicotine use disorders.

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Amanda Rodriguez

Dr. Amanda RodriguezFeasibility of Assessing the Effects of Substance Use on Auditory and Vestibular Function

Amanda Rodriguez, AuD, PhD, CCC-A is an Assistant Professor and Director of the Concussion and Vestibular Evaluation (CAVE) Laboratory at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders. She is also a Resident Faculty member in the Center of Brain, Biology and Behavior. She received her AuD/PhD in Audiology and Vestibular Function-Assessment from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. She then completed a T32 post-doc fellowship at Boys Town National Research Hospital. Her research interests include examining the effects of sports concussion on the vestibular system and identifying modifiable health risk factors associated with vestibular loss. Dr. Rodriguez is also a practicing vestibular audiologist in the community.

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Michelle Hughes

Dr. Michelle HughesFeasibility of Assessing the Effects of Substance Use on Auditory and Vestibular Function

Michelle Hughes, PhD, CCC-A is an Associate Professor and Director of the Cochlear Implant Research Laboratory (CIRL) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders. She received her MA in Audiology and PhD in Hearing Science from the University of Iowa, and completed her clinical fellowship in the Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Research interests involve examining the relation between physiology and perception in cochlear implants, investigating ways to incorporate telepractice into cochlear implant service delivery, and exploring ototoxicity effects secondary to substance misuse.

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Ann Anderson Berry

Dr. Ann Anderson BerryA Critical Examination of the Incidence of Neonatal Opioid Exposure in Rural Nebraska

Dr. Ann Anderson Berry is the Vice-Chair of Research and Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Interim Executive Director of the Child Health Research Institute (CHRI) at UNMC, Division Chief of Neonatology, and the medical director of a high acuity level III NICU and newborn nursery. Her long-term goal is to understand the implications of perinatal health research findings in communities.

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Anna Henson

Anna HensonSomatic Avatars: A Creative and Embodied Approach to Support Addiction Recovery

Anna Henson is an Assistant Professor of Practice at the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts at UNL. She is an artist, researcher, and educator in emerging media arts, with a background spanning theatre, media production, immersive technologies, and human computer interaction research. Her hybrid experience informs her design methodologies and critical perspectives within media, AR/VR, and body-centric technologies. Henson strives to build interdisciplinary and inclusive dialogue through shared language and new processes, and connect diverse ideas, populations, and causes together to creatively solve problems. She holds a Bachelor of Special Studies in Fine Art and Art Therapy from Cornell College, a Master of Fine Arts from The Glasgow School of Art, and a Master of Science in Computational Design from Carnegie Mellon University. Henson has contributed research to ACM and DIS publications, and has worked in art therapy with children, teens, and adults experiencing trauma and mental illness. She has volunteered in arts and play therapy for hematology and oncology patients in children’s hospitals and completed a certification in Mental Health First Aid with the National Council on Behavioral Health. Henson is committed to community-based programs and equity in creative arts, education, and broader health and wellbeing.

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Erik Garcia

Erik GarciaThe Serotonin 5-HT2AR, a Novel Non-Opioid Target for Opioid Use Disorder

In Fall 2021, Dr. Garcia started his career as Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and Behavior at the University of Nebraska Omaha. He researches the neurobiological mechanisms that dictate the consumption of rewards and reinforcers. After completing his doctoral degree in Experimental Psychology (Behavioral Neuroscience), he went to the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston to complete his postdoctoral training. There in the laboratory of Kathryn Cunningham, Ph.D., he researched serotonin and other G protein-coupled receptors families. Dr. Garcia helped reveal a novel series of 5-HT2CR and 5-HT2AR allosteric modulators that alter high-fat food consumption and cocaine and fentanyl relapse.

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