Past CEC Scholars


Sex differences in the effects of early childhood adversity in laboratory-induced stress and craving among individuals with Opioid Use Disorder

Delisa Brown, Ph.D.

Stress has been shown to play an important role in substance use initiation, maintenance, and relapse.  Psychosocial stressors such as early life stress have been linked to the initiation of substance use and the development of substance use disorders, although little research in this area has focused on Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). Early childhood adversity (ECA), as measured by the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) scale, may negatively impact neurobiological sensitivity to stress, impair the ability to manage negative emotions, and increase vulnerability to the development of substance use disorders. Several studies show an association between ECA and OUD, but the impact of ECA may be different for men and women. To date, no studies have investigated the relationship between ECA and response to stress and drug cues among individuals with OUD, and sex differences in this area remain poorly understood. This project directly addressed this knowledge gap by investigating sex differences in subjective, physiological and neuroendocrine responses to personalized imagery scripts (stress, opioid, neutral cues) among individuals with OUD.

Sex-associated difference in mitochondrial stress response following traumatic brain injury

Onder Albayram, Ph.D. 

The overarching goal of this project  is to elucidate the different cellular and molecular mechanisms of the endogenous neuroprotective effects of mitochondrial stress response and mitophagy in the male and female brain following brain injury. This hypothesis will be tested by pursuing two specific aims. In Aim 1, the sex-specific effects of p17-mediated mitochondrial stress response in the development and progression of pathological processes  and long-term neurobehavioral sequelae after TBI will be elucidated. In Aim 2, how sexual dimorphism in p17-mediatedmitochondrial stress response may contribute to disease pathogenesis and mitochondrial adaptation following TBI will be elucidated. These aims will allow us to explore the biological significance of sex-associated differences in mitochondrial stress response and mitophagy on pathophysiology of brain injury.


Maternal substance use and intergenerational transmission of stress response: neural emotion processing and mother-child interactions

Kathleen Crum, Ph.D. 

This project explores associations between maternal substance abuse and PTSD, maternal neural emotion and reward processing, and child neural emotion and reward processing. Functional neuroimaging data collected during emotion- and reward-response tasks will be incorporated with behavioral data collected during a task assessing observed mother-child interaction quality. The project will use a novel method combining neural and behavioral data from mothers and children and will lay the groundwork for my emerging program of research in the impact of traumatic stress across generations on a neurobiological and behavioral level.

Integrated early intervention for substance use and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder among women following sexual assault

Christine Hahn, Ph.D.

Despite substantial empirical support that sexual assault is common and increases risk for substance use disorders (SUDs) and co-occurring posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), there is a lack of efficacious early interventions to reduce these co-occurring conditions following assault. The proposed study directly addresses this gap by developing and evaluating a theory-driven, integrated early intervention for recent sexual assault victims to reduce SUD and PTSD symptoms. The development of an effective early intervention for SUD and PTSD following sexual assault would represent a significant advance in the literature and could yield tremendous public health impact.