Faculty Leadership and Research Interests

Farrer-pic-WEBSITES-2016-194x300Co-director Dr. Farrer is a genetic epidemiologist who was trained in both basic and population/quantitative sciences at the Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics at Indiana University and at Yale University in the Departments of Epidemiology and Human Genetics.  He is BU Distinguished Professor of Genetics, Chief of the Biomedical Genetics division and Director of the Molecular Genetics Core Facility at BU, and has mentored several students who successfully completed transdisciplinary Ph.D. dissertation projects.  In collaboration with other laboratories worldwide, Dr. Farrer has localized genes causing a variety of rare and common disorders. His group identified a functional genetic variant in the complement factor H gene which accounts for more than 30% of the attributable risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of progressive vision loss and blindness in the elderly.  Dr. Farrer’s major research focus is the genetics of neuropsychiatric conditions including Alzheimer disease (AD) and substance use disorders (SUDs). Under Dr. Farrer’s leadership, the MIRAGE Study, a multi center NIH-funded study of AD funded since 1991, has made several important contributions to our understanding of the interactions between genetic and environmental factors for the disorder. Working together with other researchers, Dr. Farrer’s lab identified association between AD and the SORL1 gene, thus establishing intracellular protein trafficking as an important disease pathway. He co-directs data analyses for the Alzheimer Disease Genetics Consortium and serves on the executive committee of the Alzheimer Disease Sequencing Project. For more than 15 years, Dr. Farrer has co-directed one of the world’s largest genetic studies of SUDs which elucidated many novel genes and pathways for dependence on cocaine, opioids, alcohol, nicotine and cannabis.

SaitzCo-director  Dr. Saitz is a Professor and Chairman of the Department of Community Health Sciences in the School of Public Health, is a national leader in clinical research in addictions. He is the former Chair of The Treatment Review Panel for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Editor of Evidence-Based Medicine and Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, Section Editor and sole author of key chapters in UpToDate on unhealthy alcohol and other drug use, and Editor of a leading textbook Principles of Addiction Medicine. Previously, he was Director of Boston Medical Center’s Clinical Addiction Research and Education Unit, a leading center of excellence contributing to BU’s high ranking for training in drug and alcohol disorders, for over a decade, and he continues as an active member.
Drs. Farrer and Saitz will work closely with the trainees and the Directors of their home programs to ensure that all requirements are met.

Dr. Sara BachmanDr. Sara S. Bachman, Ph.D. is Associate Professor in the Research Department at the Boston University School of Social Work and Research Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Boston University School of Public Health. She has twenty years’ experience with health policy research and program evaluation, especially in the area of state health policy for youth and adults with disabilities or complex health and social conditions. She is currently the Principal Investigator of the Catalyst Center, one of six national centers, funded to improve financing of care for children with special health care needs. Dr. Bachman previously served as Co-Principal Investigator of HRSA’s SPNS Innovations in Oral Health Evaluation and Technical Support Center. Dr. Bachman teaches Research Methods to Master’s and Doctoral students at the Boston University School of Social Work where she also directs the school’s doctoral program. Dr. Bachman chairs the Boston University Charles River Campus Institutional Review Board. She has been nominated by students four times to receive the School’s Teaching Excellence Award.

jbernstienDr. Judith Bernstein, Professor of Community Health Sciences (SPH) and Emergency Medicine (MED), has been a nurse and public health professional for the past 25 years. She has worked with both inner-city and rural communities to develop comprehensive integrated approaches to women’s health. Dr. Bernstein holds an MSN in psychiatric nursing and a doctorate in health policy. She is certified in reproductive endocrinology and infertility, and in recognition of her critical role in the development of this nursing specialty, was the 1995 recipient of the prestigious NCC award. Dr. Bernstein’s current research activities focus on prevention strategies for adults and adolescents, HIV/STD research,and ‘in-reach’–peer model interventions to bridge the cultural, language and knowledge gaps between patients and providers.

Ddbowenr. Deborah Bowen is Professor and Chair of the Department of Community Health Sciences. She is currently an investigator in the regional Cancer Prevention Network, focused on community-based research of cancer-prevention targets. She is a co-investigator on the regional Native American Community Health Network, a group of investigators and community health experts working to conduct research and training  Native communities.


Camron B.

Dr. Camron Bryant , Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Psychiatry, Department of Pharmacology. He is the Director of the Laboratory of Addiction Genetics.  Dr. Bryant’s research program is focused on determining the genetic basis of behavioral and molecular traits relevant to substance dependence in mice.  The ultimate goal is to improve our understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms of addiction and to translate these findings toward treatment and prevention strategies in humans.  A current focus is to determine the genetic basis of the rewarding properties of opioids in mice by combining quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis of behavior and gene expression in genetic reference populations that yield high resolution QTLs.  This multi-pronged approach to gene mapping will accelerate the nomination of candidate genes for validation via direct gene targeting.  A separate focus with regard to functional characterization of candidate genes is the dissection of the hypothesized opposing roles of casein kinase-1 (CK-1) isoforms in regulating dopaminergic signaling and the motivational properties of drugs of abuse.  Last, Dr. Bryant has a longstanding interest in deciphering the neurobiological basis of the “placebo effect”, a phenomenon that has been hypothesized to be mediated by the reward expectation.  He plans to develop and apply a forward genetic analysis toward Pavlovian conditioning mouse models across a variety of conditions that are notoriously sensitive to the placebo effect, including pain, anxiety, depression, and Parkinson’s Disease.

Christine Cheng faculty 2017Dr. Christine Cheng, Assistant Professor of Department of Biology and Bioinformatics Program. Dr. Cheng’s research program studies transcriptional regulatory network and aims to develop a comprehensive understanding of how aberrant regulatory circuits contribute to human disease. Dr. Cheng’s lab utilizes cutting edge massively-parallel single cell droplet based technology enabled by microfluidic device to simultaneously profile thousands of single cells at the same time. Dr. Cheng’s lab also utilize single cell resolution epigenetic assay, single cell ATAC-seq to dissect the epigenetic landscape. The main focus of her lab is to utilize single cell resolution functional genomic assays and computational methods to study heterogeneous clinical tissue samples and blood immune cell populations in patient samples.  Dr. Cheng’s lab uses multi-disciplinary perspective and has both wet-lab assay and dry-lab research. Current projects focus on applying massively-parallel single-cell transcriptomic and epigenetic profiling in substance addiction, Type 2 diabetes and cancer patient samples, with the goal of finding diagnostic markers and therapeutic targets.  Dr. Cheng received her Master’s degree in Computer Science from Stanford University and she received her doctorate degree in Bioinformatics from University of California, San Diego.  Dr. Cheng completed her postdoctoral training in epigenetics, systems biology and immunology at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard with Dr. Aviv Regev.

cirauloDr. Domenic Ciraulo, MD Professor and Chairman, Division of Psychiatry and Psychiatrist-in-Chief, Boston Medical Center.Dr. Ciraulo has been Professor and Chairman of the Division of Psychiatry and Psychiatrist-in Chief at Boston Medical Center since 1996. He leads a research team that studies alcoholism and addiction. Research support for his work has been provided by NIAAA, NIDA, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. His research in alcoholism and addiction has focused on medication development, the interaction of psychosocial therapy and medication therapy, neuroimaging, and clinical psychopharmacology. He has served on several national committees, including FDA advisory panels, NIH scientific review groups, and the American Psychiatry Association’s Council on Addiction Psychiatry. He is Associate Editor of the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology and serves on the editorial board of the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. Dr. Ciraulo has authored or co-authored more than one hundred fifty papers and book chapters and co-edited five books. He is also a Lecturer on Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and an Adjunct Lecturer in Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at Tufts University School of Medicine. He was formerly a Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts (1992-96). He graduated from Georgetown University School of Medicine in 1975 and was a psychiatric resident at the Institute of Living (1975-77) and Chief Resident of the Somatic Therapies Unit, Clinical Fellow Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Mental Health Center (1977-78).

PCottoneDr Pietro. Cottone is co-director of the Laboratory of Addictive Disorders. Dr. Cottone’s research interests focus on the neurobiological substrates of motivated behaviors including feeding and addiction. The major goal of Dr. Cottone’s research is identifying the biological bases of and potential treatments for eating disorders and obesity. Current studies concern the role of stress in compulsive eating and palatable food dependence. Areas of focused research include the investigation of the neurobiological bases of stress-related disorders such as anxiety and depression. Dr. Cottone’s studies are carried out on environmental and genetic animal models, using behavioral, biochemical, and molecular approaches.

IFDr. David Farb, Chairman, Dept. of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics, studies the neurobiological underpinnings of drug abuse. His research uses a self-administration-reinstatement rodent model to investigate mechanisms of relapse and identify new treatments. These rodents share triggers that precipitate relapse in addicts. Effects of neuroactive steroids, pharmacological and molecular modulators of glutamate receptors on reinstatement are tested using intracranial microinjections into specific limbic nuclei. Results from these preclinical models will facilitate the identification of new biomarkers that are important for the assessment of treatment outcomes, especially for patients whose illicit drug use is co-morbid with other CNS diseases.

bgoldbergDr. Bennett Goldberg is Director of Boston University’s new Center for Nanoscience and Nanobiotechnology, an interdisciplinary center that brings together academic and industrial scientists and engineers in the development of nanotechnology with applications in materials and biomedicine. He is a Professor of Physics, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Professor of Biomedical Engineering. His active research interests are in the general area of ultra-high resolution microscopy and spectroscopy for hard and soft materials systems. He has worked in near-field imaging of photonic bandgap, ring microcavity and single-mode waveguide devices and has recently developed subsurface solid immersion microscopy for Si inspection. His group is working on novel approaches to subcellular imaging with interferometric fluorescenent techniques, and in biosensor fabrication and development of waveguide evanescent bio-imaging techniques. Nano-optics research includes Raman scattering of individual nanotubes and nano-optics of electron systems in quantum wells and quantum dot structures.

tcheeren-150x150Dr. Heeren has built a career as a biostatistician working on transdisciplinary research teams and has co-mentored dissertation research for doctoral students in Epidemiology, Environmental Health, Health Services Management, and Psychology as well as Biostatistics. Dr. Heeren has developed and taught both introductory and advanced applied biostatistics methods courses at the School of Public Health. Currently, he alternates between teaching the core biostatistics course and the more advanced Statistical Methods in Epidemiology. Dr Heeren also teaches a graduate level applied regression and multivariable methods course through the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. Dr. Heeren’s research interests are in applied biostatistics, observational studies, behavioral trials, regression models and complex survey design. His current applied research includes serving as biostatistician on three longitudinal cohort studies examining: the consequences of in-utero cocaine and other substance exposure on child development through the early adulthood; cognitive functioning of extremely low gestational age infants at age 10, and how factors measured at birth predicted age 10 functioning; and the health consequences of care giving for the elderly.



Dr. Robert Horsburgh is a physician with more than 30 years of experience in public health and medicine. He is currently Chair of the Department of Epidemiology, as well as holding faculty positions in the Department of Biostatistics and the Department of Medicine. Dr. Horsburgh teaches courses in the Epidemiology of AIDS and the Epidemiology of Tuberculosis. He has focused his research on tuberculosis, nontuberculous mycobacterial infections and opportunistic infections in AIDS. He is a member of the AIDS Clinical Trials Group’s Tuberculosis Transformative Science Group and Chairman of the Steering Committee of RESIST-TB, an international organization dedicated to improving MDR-TB treatment through Clinical Trials. He was previously at the Centers for Disease Control, Emory University, the University of Colorado and the National Jewish Hospital.


Dr. Kathleen Kantak, Professor of Psychology, conducts behavioral, pharmacological and molecular research related to memory system regulation of drug addiction, mechanisms and modulation of drug cue extinction learning, and co-morbidity between drug addiction and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder using animal models. The emphasis of her work is on combining pharmacological and behavioral interventions for the treatment of drug addiction.


Gkaplan-150x150Dr. Gary Kaplan, is a Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology & Experimental Pharmacology at Boston University School of Medicine and is the Director of the Mental Health Service at VA Boston Healthcare System. Dr. Kaplan’s research focuses on neuroplasticity in animal models of drug addiction and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD).  His current research examines changes in dendritic plasticity in opiate reward and its extinction and also in fear conditioning and fear extinction. Such translational research can better define the mechanisms related to drug and PTSD relapse and identify novel therapeutic targets of interest. Dr. Kaplan received his medical training at Drexel University School of Medicine. His residency training in Psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine was followed by a postdoctoral research fellowship in Clinical Pharmacology at Tufts.


Dr. Terence M. Keane, Ph.D. is Professor and Vice Chairman in Psychiatry and Professor of Clinical Psychology at Boston University. He is also the Associate Chief of Staff for Research and Development at VA Boston Healthcare System and Director of the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder’s Behavioral Science Division.The Past President of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), Dr. Keane has published eleven edited volumes and over 225 articles on the assessment and treatment of PTSD. For the past 29 years the VA, the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, and Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) have continuously supported his program of research on psychological trauma. His current work and interests are in the development of a nationally representative registry of PTSD Patients and the construction of an internet based treatment program for returning war veterans with risky alcohol use and war trauma symptoms.


Dr. Clifford Knapp, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor; Clinical Pharmacologist with Boston University Psychiatry Associates Clinical Studies Unit. Dr. Knapps current interests include research in the areas of medication development for the treatment of alcohol and drug abuse, deep brain stimulation for the management of these disorders, and the interaction between brain areas in the mediation of pain. .Current research focuses on the role of anticonvulsants in the treatment of alcohol dependence. Additional research in the effects of stimulation of brain reward areas on responses to painful stimuli produced by the activation brain pain pathways.

SDr. Richard Sherva is Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Genetics, BU Medical School.  His primary interest is in exploring the genetic epidemiology of complex disease using linkage and association methods. I’ve worked on cardiovascular phenotypes including hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and stroke, as well as psychiatric diseases including addiction and ADHD, with a focus on gene x (gene, environment, drug treatment) interactions. My future work will likely involve pharmacogenetics and personalized medicine, with specific focus on Alzheimer’s disease.

Dkleitemorrisr. Kimberly A. Leite-Morris, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Psychiatry and Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at Boston University School of Medicine and directs a neurochemistry and behavioral neuroscience laboratory at the VA Boston Healthcare System. Dr. Leite-Morris’ primary research interests are in determining the neurochemical mechanisms that underlie the anticipation, intense “craving” and repeated consumption of ethanol and substance abuse. She has established a rodent model of ethanol-self administration paired with current methods of in vivo microdialysis that procedurally separates and quantifies neurotransmitter levels during the different elements of the addiction process. Her methods incorporate a pharmacological approach utilizing novel therapeutic agents including novel positive allosteric modulators of the GABA receptor that culminate in alterations of dopamine, GABA and glutamate. Dr. Leite-Morris has established a behavioral phenotyping laboratory at the VABHS to examine fear conditioning and stress as they relate to alcohol-directed behaviors in genetically modified mice.Dr. Leite-Morris’ collaborative projects include opiate reward and extinction, fear conditioning, and alcohol and substance abuse in penetrating brain injury and shock wave. Dr. Leite-Morris received her doctorate from the University of Rhode Island in the Department of Biochemisty and Molecular Genetics and completed her NIAAA NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship at Brown University’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies where she remains an Affiliate Faculty member.


M.Oscar-BermanDr. Marlene Oscar-Berman, Director of the graduate program in Behavioral Neuroscience, studies the effects of long-term chronic alcoholism on the structure and functioning of the human brain. Alcoholism-related abnormalities in brain centers controlling emotional perception and regulation may differ for men and women and can differentially alter the course of alcoholism directly by affecting sensitivity to feedback and through affecting the capacity to make economic, social, and health-related decisions. Her research addresses these issues using neurobehavioral tests in concert with neuroimaging measures of brain structure and function.

tpalfaiDr. Tibor Palfai’s primary research interest is the role of cognitive processes in addictive behaviors in the Department of Psychology. He is particularly interested in understanding how conscious and non-conscious processes are involved in efforts to control craving for substances, and developing cognitive-behavioral treatments for problem drinking. Dr. Palfai also conducts research on how mood states influence evaluative judgment and reasoning.



RosenbloomDr. David Rosenbloom is Interim Chair of Health Policy & Management, BU School of Public Health. Dr. Rosenbloom has conducted and published research in both political science and substance abuse including a book on the development of the professional campaign management industry*, four national surveys on community anti-drug organizations and strategies, and numerous articles on substance abuse policy. He is the Director of Join Together,  which helps communities fight substance abuse and gun violence.


Dvsabinor. Valentina Sabino is co-director of the Laboratory of Addictive Disorders, and is currently researching the neurobiology of addiction and stress-related disorders. Studies on addiction aim to understand the neurobiological substrates of alcohol abuse and dependence by exploring the role of neurochemical systems in excessive alcohol drinking.  Dr. Sabino is working toward the development of new therapeutic agents to alleviate alcohol addiction. Animal models for excessive drinking are studied in order to identify compounds for potential clinical development. Research is also conducted on the neurobiology of stress-related disorders such as anxiety and depression. The approach of the laboratory is interdisciplinary, involving behavioral neuroscience, neuropharmacology, neuroanatomy, biochemistry and molecular biology.

jsametDr. Jeffrey Samet, MD, MA, MPH is a general internist, with specific training and expertise in addiction medicine, the conduct of clinical research, and the interaction between HIV and substance use. His research has focused on the interrelationships of alcohol and drug abuse, HIV infection, and primary medical care; this research is informed by his clinical involvement as a primary care physician at Boston Medical Center. As PI or Co-Investigator on several NIDA and NIAAA-funded grants he has studied the following issues: the impact of alcohol and drug use in HIV-infected persons; the delay in establishing primary medical care for HIV infection; linkage of addiction treatment and primary medical care; and addressing substance use issues in primary care and other medical settings. He currently leads the NIAAA-supported (Uganda Russia Boston Alcohol Network for Alcohol Research Collaboration on HIV/AIDS) URBAN ARCH research consortium examining alcohol’s impact on HIV disease.

TTPAS M Siegle Dr. Michael Siegel is Professor of Community Health Sciences in the Boston University School of Public Health. His primary areas of expertise and research are tobacco control and alcohol. Within the tobacco control field, he has conducted research on the health effects of smoking, secondhand smoke exposure and health effects, policies to reduce tobacco use, the influence of tobacco advertising and marketing on youth smoking behavior, and smoking cessation. Within the alcohol field, his research has examined the brand-specific consumption of alcohol among underage drinkers. His present research is investigating the relationship between brand-specific advertising exposure and brand preferences of underage youth drinkers.

lsullivanDr. Lisa Sullivan has a PhD in Statistics and is Professor of Biostatistics and Chair of the Department of Biostatistics. She teaches Elementary Biostatistics for MPH students and was instrumental in developing a minor program in public health which is open to undergraduate students in the BU College of Arts and Sciences. Lisa is the Principal Investigator of the Summer Institute for Training in Biostatistics which is designed to promote interest in the field of biostatistics and its many exciting career opportunities. The program ran for the first time in the summer of 2004. Lisa is co-author of a textbook entitled Introductory Applied Biostatistics, author of Essentials of Biostatistics in Public Health and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Enclyclopedia of Clinical Trials. She is the recipient of numerous teaching awards including the Norman A. Scotch award and the prestigious Metcalf Award, both for excellence in teaching at Boston University. Lisa is a statistician on the Framingham Heart Study working primarily in developing and disseminating cardiovascular risk functions. She is active in multidisciplinary research projects including a variety of projects in cardiovascular disease, a large epidemiological study to assess the association between alcohol exposure in pregnancy and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), studies to improve methods for prenatal diagnosis and a clinical trial to improve repetitive behaviors in children affected with autism.


Dr. Alexander Walley is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and a general internist who provides primary care for HIV-infected patients at BMC and is the medical director of the Boston Public Health Commission’s Opioid Treatment Program. His research interests include the medical complications of drug use, specifically HIV and overdose, the treatment of addictions with behavioral and pharmacologic interventions, and risk behaviors among HIV-infected people and people with HIV risk behaviors. He is an investigator on studies of the integration of addiction treatment into primary medical care for people with HIV infection or high risk for HIV, a behavioral intervention to reduce alcohol use and risky sexual behavior among HIV-infected alcohol-using Russians, and the implementation of an opioid overdose prevention program. He routinely mentors summer research students and leads the Boston Medical Center Internal Medicine Primary Care Resident Addiction Medicine Block Rotation.

SPHHEADSDr. Roberta White became chair of the Department of Environmental Health in June 2003. A neuropsychologist, Dr. White studies the effects of exposures to industrial chemicals and chemical pollutants on brain function, using both behavioral measures and neuroimaging techniques. She has studied occupational lead exposures in adults, environmental lead exposure in children, prenatal exposure to methylmercury and polychlorinated biphenyls from maternal diet, and solvent exposures in children and adults. A current project examines the effects of prenatal pesticide exposure among farm workers in South Africa. Recent brain neuroimaging studies include functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in adolescents with prenatal exposure to methylmercury and biphenyls, magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) of lead-exposed workers, and structural MRI in Gulf War veterans. She has also studied the neurocognitive sequelae of neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease and is interested in gene-environment interactions underlying these disorders. Dr. White holds appointments in the Neurology and Psychology departments at BU and has trained over 100 students in environmental health, behavioral neuroscience, behavioral neurology, and neuropsychology.

Dr. Ziming Xuan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health. He is also a faculty member of the Injury Prevention Center at Boston Medical Center and a faculty member of the Primary Care Academic Fellowship Program of Boston University School of Medicine. He is a social epidemiologist who is interested in understanding the influence of social-contextual determinants, especially policy determinants on health among vulnerable populations. He is also interested in the methodologies involved in social-behavioral interventions to promote healthy behavioral changes and enhance community well-being. His research interests include health policies related to alcohol, opioid, marijuana, other substance use disorders, and mental health. He received his Doctor of Science Degree (Sc.D.) in public health in 2010 and Master’s Degree (S.M.) in Biostatistics in 2008 from Harvard University. Currently he is serving as an Assistant Field Editor for the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.