Speakers & Organizing Committee

Christopher P. Austin, M.D.Christopher P. Austin, M.D., is the director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). NCATS’ mission is to catalyze the generation of innovative methods and technologies that will enhance the development, testing and implementation of diagnostics and therapeutics across a wide range of human diseases and conditions. Before becoming NCATS director in September 2012, he was the director of the NCATS Division of Preclinical Innovation, which focuses on translating basic science discoveries into new treatments, particularly for rare and neglected diseases, and developing new technologies and paradigms to improve the efficiency of therapeutic and diagnostic development. In this role, Dr. Austin founded and directed numerous initiatives including the NIH Chemical Genomics Center (NCGC), the Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases (TRND) program and the Toxicology in the 21st Century (Tox21) program. From 2016 to 2018, he was the elected chair of the International Rare Disease Research Consortium (IRDiRC). Before joining NIH in 2002, Dr. Austin directed research programs on genomics-based target discovery, pharmacogenomics and neuropsychiatric drug development, with a particular focus on schizophrenia, at Merck. He received his A.B. in biology from Princeton University and his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and completed clinical training in internal medicine and neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and a research fellowship in genetics at Harvard.

Laura M. Bohn, Ph.D.Laura M. Bohn, Ph.D., is a professor of molecular medicine and neuroscience at The Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida, where she is endowed by the Dembling Fund for Drug Discovery and Human Health Research. She actively pursues new therapies for the treatment of pain and addiction by modulating G protein-coupled receptors that are critically involved in how patients respond to many therapeutics, including opioid analgesics. Her research program is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Previously Dr. Bohn was a tenured associate professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and Psychiatry at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. Dr. Bohn received a Young Investigator Award from the Society for Neuroscience, the Joseph P. Cochin Award from CPDD, the John J. Abel Award in Pharmacology from the ASPET in 2011 and the Viktor Mutt Lectureship from the International Regulatory Peptide Society in 2018. She received her degrees in chemistry and biochemistry from Virginia Tech and her Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from St. Louis University School of Medicine. She completed postdoctoral training at Duke University Medical Center in the laboratory of Dr. Marc Caron in collaboration with Dr. Robert Lefkowitz.

David Borsook, M.D., Ph.D.David Borsook, M.D., Ph.D., is a professor at Harvard Medical School and has appointments in the Department of Psychiatry at McLean Hospital, the Department of Radiology and Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Department of Anesthesia at Children’s Hospital Medical Center. He also is the founding director of the Center for Pain and the Brain and Save the Child’s Brain. He is a neurologist and neurobiologist by training. He previously was the director of the MGH Pain Program and was involved in a number of national and international pain programs, including the WHO Cancer Pain Initiative in China. In 1994, while at MGH Dr. Borsook established a research program investigating the use of fMRI in pain and analgesia with the support of NIH and other nonprofit research foundations. In 2002 he left MGH and with his colleagues, co-founded Descartes Therapeutics, Inc., a venture-backed Biotech that aimed to use fMRI in drug development where he was the chief scientific officer and executive vice president. His work has focused on the development of potential peripheral and central biomarkers for pain. He has published extensively, including 3 books (1 on the use of imaging in drug development) and more than 250 peer reviewed articles, and has been a representative on a number of NIH-related programs in the field of pain. He received his M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.

Michael R. Bruchas, Ph.D.Michael R. Bruchas, Ph.D., is a professor in the Center for the Neurobiology of Addiction, Pain and Emotion and of anesthesiology and pharmacology at the University of Washington. His laboratory focuses on how brain circuits are wired, how they communicate via neuromodulation and on developing new neuroscience tools. His laboratory’s discoveries have been published in Science, Cell and Neuron and have been featured on public radio, in The Wall Street Journal, Nature, The New Yorker, The Smithsonian and Popular Science. He also is co-founder of the neurotechnology company Neurolux. Dr. Bruchas’ awards include the NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award, an NIH EUREKA Award, the Young Investigator Award from the International Narcotics Research Conference and NIH BRAIN Initiatives for tool development in dissecting brain circuits. In 2018 he was awarded the NIH-MERIT award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Rising Star Award from the Mahoney Institute of Neuroscience and the Society for Neuroscience Jacob P. Waletzky Memorial Award for cutting-edge research in addiction. He received his B.S. in biology and his Ph.D. in pharmacology from Creighton University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in neuroscience at the University of Washington, where he examined how endogenous opioids impact stress, depression and addiction.

Nigel Bunnett, Ph.D.Nigel Bunnett, Ph.D., is a professor of surgery and pharmacology and vice chair for research in surgery at Columbia University. His laboratory investigates the mechanisms by which G protein-coupled receptors signal chronic pain, itch and neurogenic inflammation. A particular focus is to understand how signaling from subcellular compartments underlies the transition from acute to chronic pain and itch. His laboratory has developed novel therapies that target receptors in endosomes and provide more effective and selective relief from chronic pain and itch. His research has been reported in approximately 350 publications, which have received more than 30,000 citations, and is funded by the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense and National Health and Medical Research Council. He is editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Physiology, Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology. Previously Dr. Bunnett was a professor of surgery and physiology and vice chair of surgery at the University of California, San Francisco; NHMRC Australia Fellow at Monash University and deputy director of the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Science. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge and completed postdoctoral fellowships at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Washington.

Catherine Cahill, Ph.D.Catherine Cahill, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA. She is an opioid neuropharmacologist studying mechanisms of chronic pain and opioid analgesia, tolerance, dependence and addiction. Her research encompasses both translational basic science and clinical studies and is supported by government agencies, pharmaceutical companies and philanthropy. As a testament to her recognition as a leader in her field, Dr. Cahill has given more than 100 national and international conference lectures and is actively involved in various neuroscience outreach programs. She has received many prestigious awards including the Hugill Anaesthesiology Award and held a Canada Research Chair in Chronic Pain for 10 years before moving to California. Previously she held a faculty position in pharmacology and anesthesiology at Queen’s University. She received her B.Sc. in chemistry from Mount Allison University and her M.Sc. and Ph.D. in pharmacology from Dalhousie University, Canada, and completed postdoctoral training in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at the Montreal Neurological Institute and at the Clinical Research Institute of Montreal.

William (Bill) Carlezon, Ph.D.William (Bill) Carlezon, Ph.D., is a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Harvard Medical School. His lab is based at McLean Hospital, where he serves as chief of the Basic Neuroscience Division. He is primarily interested in the biological basis and treatment of neuropsychiatric illness, specifically nature/nurture issues as they relate to the brain and the basic processes by which the brain develops and is modified in response to experience. His lab is currently focused on understanding how the environment affects behavior and the biology of the brain and developing and implementing more objective endpoints for analysis.  “Environment” can mean many things, including exposure to drugs of abuse, stress, trauma, toxins or illness. This work is relevant to many types of neuropsychiatric disorders, including addiction, depression, anxiety, PTSD and autism. Dr. Carlezon has received numerous awards for his research, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) from George W. Bush, the Jacob P. Waletzky Award for Innovative Research in Drug Addiction and Alcoholism from the Society for Neuroscience and the Daniel Efron Award from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. He is editor-in-chief of Neuropsychopharmacology and a chartered member of NIDA’s Board of Scientific Councilors.  He received his Ph.D. in psychology from Concordia University, Montreal.

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., was appointed the 16th director of the National Institutes of Health by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate. He was sworn in on August 17, 2009. On June 6, 2017, President Donald Trump announced his selection of Dr. Collins to continue to serve as the NIH director. In this role, Dr. Collins oversees the work of the largest supporter of biomedical research in the world, spanning the spectrum from basic to clinical research. He is a physician-geneticist noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the international Human Genome Project, which culminated in April 2003 with the completion of a finished sequence of the human DNA instruction book. He served as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at NIH from 1993 to 2008. Before coming to NIH, Dr. Collins was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the University of Michigan. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2007, and received the National Medal of Science in 2009. He received his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Yale University and his M.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

Robert Conley, M.D.Robert Conley, M.D., is the chief science officer for the Lilly Biomedicine Neuroscience Program. This group is responsible for the development of novel non-opioid pain therapies and novel treatments for dementia and other neurology indications. He also is responsible for coordinating new entries into Phase II and III at Lilly from both Lilly Research Labs and outside developmental partnerships. Dr. Conley also is an adjunct professor of psychiatry and affiliate professor of pharmacy practice and science at the University of Maryland. His research interests are in developing better treatments for people with psychosis, the basic neuroanatomy and physiology of the brain related to serious mental disorders and bioethics. He received his B.A. with honors from the Johns Hopkins University and his M.D. with honors from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He was the chief resident at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic at the University of Pittsburgh and is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

NaNathan P. Coussens, Ph.D.than P. Coussens, Ph.D., is a senior research scientist in the Division of Pre-Clinical Innovation at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), where he applies his diverse scientific background to design and optimize biologically relevant biochemical and cell-based assays for high-throughput screening. He works with a highly collaborative and multidisciplinary team to develop small molecule probes relevant to a variety of human diseases. Dr. Coussens also serves as editor-in-chief of the Assay Guidance Manual, a growing online eBook of best practices for preclinical assay development and implementation that has become the go-to resource for scientists in industry and academia. Prior to joining NCATS in 2013, Dr. Coussens was a postdoctoral fellow at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), where he combined biophysical studies, cell biology and high-resolution imaging to interrogate signaling events initiated by the T-cell antigen receptor. He received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Iowa, where he applied structural and biophysical approaches to study host-pathogen interactions and, as a postdoctoral fellow of the Interdisciplinary Immunology Program there, utilized crystallographic and thermodynamic studies to inform the development of small molecules that target a host evasion mechanism exploited by pathogenic bacteria.

Ron Dror, Ph.D., M.Phil.Ron Dror, Ph.D., M.Phil., is an associate professor of computer science and, by courtesy, molecular and cellular physiology and structural biology at Stanford University.  He leads a group that employs a broad range of computational methods to study the spatial organization and dynamics of biomolecules and cells. Before joining Stanford University, Dr. Dror served as second-in-command of D. E. Shaw Research, a hundred-person company, where he focused on biomolecular simulation as part of a project highlighted by Science as one of the top 10 scientific breakthroughs of 2010. He received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his M.Phil. in biological sciences as a Churchill Scholar from the University of Cambridge. 

Christian C. Felder, Ph.D.Christian C. Felder, Ph.D., is vice president of discovery research at Karuna Pharma, focusing on neuropsychiatric disorders, and maintains an adjunct professorship at Monash University and the University of Virginia. Previously he was a member of the Neuroscience Team at Eli Lilly & Co. in Indianapolis, where he initiated many drug development projects from inception through validation and translation into early clinical development. He maintained an active laboratory throughout his 21 years at Lilly and held international positions of increasing responsibility in management, committees and mentoring. He recently retired from Lilly as a research fellow. Prior to working at Eli Lilly & Co., Dr. Felder was a staff fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), where he completed his postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Julius Axelrod and became head of the Unit on Cell and Molecular Signaling. He has published more than 150 scientific articles, reviews and book chapters and has had numerous invitations to speak at universities and international scientific symposia. He received his B.S. in chemistry from the College of William and Mary, his M.S. in biochemistry from the University of Maryland Medical School and his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Georgetown University School of Medicine.

Matthew Hall, Ph.D.Matthew Hall, Ph.D., is the branch chief of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences’ Chemical Genomics Center in Rockville, Maryland, where he also serves as biology group leader. He leads a team of biologists who develop and optimize both biochemical and cell-based assays for automated, small-molecule, high-throughput screening in collaboration with NIH intramural and extramural partners. Dr. Hall’s research has an emphasis on oncology but covers a diverse range of other human pathologies and diseases and aims to use chemical screening to bring insight to biological space. He received his B.Sc. (Hons) and Ph.D. from the School of Chemistry at the University of Sydney; his doctoral work included six months in the Nuffield Division of Clinical Laboratory Sciences at Oxford University. After a year at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health under an American Australian Association Sir Keith Murdoch Fellowship studying metal transporters, Hall moved to the NCI Laboratory of Cell Biology under Michael M. Gottesman, where he used his chemical and genetic experience to work on the experimental therapeutics and the clinically challenging phenomenon of cancer multidrug resistance and developed models for studying drug penetration across the blood-brain barrier.


Andrea HoughtonAndrea Houghton is an executive director at the Merck West Point, PA, site, where she leads the Pharmacology Department supporting both neuroscience and infectious disease therapy areas. Previously she was an executive director of pain and migraine where she was responsible for managing Merck’s Pain and Migraine Portfolio. She continues to work on preclinical and clinical projects pursuing the identification of novel analgesics, including Nav1.7 inhibitors. Prior to Merck, Dr. Houghton worked supporting the research of novel analgesics at Organon Laboratories in Scotland for 12 years. She received her Ph.D. studying the pharmacology of withdrawal reflexes using peripheral nerve recordings from the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Drs. Karin Westlund-High and Bill Willis in Galveston, Texas, where she studied the pharmacology of pain processing in rodents and primates using electrophysiology and behavior and a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Bristol with Dr. Max Headley.


SSamantha Jonson, M.P.S.amantha Jonson, M.P.S., is the organizing point of contact for all HEAL/opioid-related work at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences and is a special assistant to the NCATS director.  She also manages special initiatives and projects within the NCATS Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program; collaborations with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on behalf of NCATS, NIH and HHS; and numerous strategic engagement efforts with external stakeholders. Ms. Jonson has received an NIH Director’s Award and four NCATS Director’s Awards for her work and leadership at NCATS. Ms. Jonson received a dual bachelor’s degree in psychology and dance from Muhlenberg College, a master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and a graduate certificate in project management from Georgetown University.


David Julius, Ph.D.David Julius, Ph.D., is the Morris Herzstein Chair in Molecular Biology and Medicine and professor and chair of physiology at the University of California, San Francisco. His lab is interested in understanding how signals are received and transmitted by the nervous system. They have exploited the properties of natural products to discover a family of thermo- and chemo-sensitive ion channels that enable sensory nerve fibers to detect hot or cold temperatures or chemical irritants. With the aid of genetic, electrophysiological and behavioral methods, they have determined how these ion channels contribute to pain sensation and how channel activity is modulated in response to tumor growth, infection or other forms of injury that produce inflammation and pain hypersensitivity. Dr. Julius is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received his B.S. in life sciences from MIT, where he worked with Alex Rich on the enzymology of tRNA aminoacylation; his Ph.D. in biochemistry from UC Berkeley, where he worked with Jeremy Thorner and Randy Schekman to elucidate mechanisms of peptide hormone processing and secretion in Saccharomyces yeast; and postdoctoral training in Richard Axel’s group at Columbia University, where his focus turned to neuropharmacology and receptor function.

Peter Kalivas, Ph.D.Peter Kalivas, Ph.D., is a distinguished university professor and founding department chair of Neuroscience at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. He is a neuropharmacologist best known for his work to elucidate the brain molecules and neurocircuitry that underlie drug addiction. His research has identified new brain mechanisms that have become potential pharmacotherapeutic targets for treating addiction in clinical trials. In a previous faculty position at Louisiana State University in New Orleans (1982–84) and during a more extensive tenure at Washington State University (1984–98) he came to focus his career research on the cellular and molecular underpinnings of the brain circuits mediating addiction. He is a past president of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. He received his Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Washington in Seattle and, during a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, he became oriented toward the role that brain circuitry plays in regulating behavior.

Paul Kenny, Ph.D.Paul Kenny, Ph.D., is the Ward-Coleman Professor and chairman of the Department of Neuroscience and director of the Drug Discovery Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He also is co-founder of Eolas Therapeutics, Inc., a company focused on developing novel medications for drug addiction, and serves as a senior editor for The Journal of Neuroscience. Prior to joining the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, he was on the faculty of The Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida. Research in his laboratory is focused on understanding the molecular neurobiology of drug addiction, obesity and schizophrenia. Dr. Kenny has received numerous awards for his research, including the Daniel H. Efron Research Award from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, the Jacob P. Waletzky Memorial Award from the Society for Neuroscience, a Distinguished Investigator Award from NARSAD and the Tom Connor Distinguished Investigator Award from Neuroscience Ireland. He is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, where he earned a degree in biochemistry. He received his Ph.D. in neuropharmacology from King's College London and completed his postdoctoral training at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California.

Brigitte L. Kieffer, Ph.D.Brigitte L. Kieffer, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University and a research director at INSERM, France. She has isolated the first gene encoding an opioid receptor, opening an entire research field toward understanding the molecular basis of opioid-controlled behaviors. Her genetic dissection of the opioid system has brought major advances in pain, addiction and mood disorder research as well as for G-protein-coupled receptor biology. She has developed and shared exquisite genetic tools worldwide, and her pioneering work has been transformative in neuroscience and biomedical research. She has received numerous awards, including the Lounsbery (French and U.S. Academies of Science), the Lamonica Award of Neurology (French Academy of Science) and the International L’OREAL-UNESCO Award for Women in Science (European Laureate). She is a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and the French Academy of Sciences. She has published more than 200 original articles in international peer-reviewed journals, has written more than 50 invited reviews and chapters in prestigious journals and books and has given more than 200 invited conferences worldwide at international scientific meetings and institutions across the world. She graduated from the University of Strasbourg.

George F. Koob, Ph.D.George F. Koob, Ph.D., is the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and a senior investigator in the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, where he directs the Neurobiology of Addiction Laboratory in the Integrative Neurosciences Research Branch. As an authority on alcoholism, drug addiction and stress, he has contributed to our understanding of the neurocircuitry associated with the acute reinforcing effects of alcohol and drugs of abuse and the neuroadaptations of the reward and stress circuits associated with the transition to dependence. He spent much of his early career at the Scripps Research Institute as the director of the Alcohol Research Center and as professor and chair of the Scripps’ Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders. Dr. Koob is the recipient of many honors, including membership in the National Academy of Medicine and award of the Legion of Honor (France). He has published more than 700 peer reviewed papers and several books including Neurobiology of Addiction, a comprehensive treatise on emerging research in the field, and Drugs, Addiction and the Brain, a textbook for upper division undergraduates and graduate students. He has mentored 11 Ph.D. students and more than 80 postdoctoral fellows. He received his Ph.D. in behavioral physiology from Johns Hopkins University.

Walter J. Koroshetz, M.D.Walter J. Koroshetz, M.D., is the director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. He joined NINDS in 2007 as a deputy director and has held leadership roles in a number of National Institutes of Health and NINDS programs including the NIH’s BRAIN Initiative, NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience, the Traumatic Brain Injury Center collaboration between the NIH intramural program and the Uniformed Health Services University, the Helping to End Addiction Long Term (HEAL) Initiative, and the NIH Office of Emergency Care Research. Before joining NINDS, Dr. Koroshetz served as vice chair of the neurology service and director of stroke and neurointensive care services at Massachusetts General Hospital. He was a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and led neurology resident training at MGH between 1990 and 2007. Over that same period, he co-directed the HMS Neurobiology of Disease Course with Drs. Edward Kravitz and Robert H Brown. A major focus of his clinical research career was to develop measures in patients that reflect the underlying biology of their conditions. This led to clinical research using brain imaging techniques including magnetic resonance spectroscopy in Huntington’s disease, diffusion/perfusion MR and computed tomography imaging, CT angiography, and acute clot removal for large artery stroke. He received his B.S. from Georgetown University and his M.D. from the University of Chicago. He trained in internal medicine at the University of Chicago and MGH, then trained in neurology and neuroscience at MGH and later in the Harvard Neurobiology Department.


Pierre-Eric Lutz, M.D., Ph.D.Pierre-Eric Lutz, M.D., Ph.D., is an associate professor at the Institute of Cellular and Integrative Neurosciences in Strasbourg, France, and an associate researcher at the Douglas Hospital Research Centre in Montréal, Canada. His work focuses on the understanding of genomic and epigenomic adaptations occurring within the opioid system in relation to addictive and depressive disorders and as a function of opiate exposure. To achieve this goal, he is combining genetic engineering in the mouse and investigations of cerebral and peripheral human samples, using next-generation sequencing methodologies. He received his M.D. and residency training from the University of Strasbourg Faculty of Medicine and his Ph.D. from the University of Strasbourg Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology, where he worked in the laboratory of Dr. Brigitte Kieffer. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Gustavo Turecki at McGill University.


Owen B. McManus, Ph.D.Owen B. McManus, Ph.D., is the chief technology officer at Q-State Biosciences, a biotech company that uses iPC cell-based disease models coupled with optical electrophysiology and transcriptomic assays to develop therapeutics for genetically defined neuronal diseases and pain. He previously worked for more than 20 years at Merck Research Labs, focusing on ion channel drug discovery in multiple therapeutic areas including pain. Following Merck, Dr. McManus contributed to academic drug discovery efforts at Johns Hopkins University and the National Institutes of Health Molecular Libraries Program and worked on technology development to support drug discovery at Essen Bioscience. His work has spanned a range of drug discovery activities from early discovery to clinical studies. Much of his recent work has aimed to develop and implement new approaches to enable drug discovery. He received his B.A. in physiology from Denison University and his Ph.D. in physiology from the University of Utah and did postdoctoral studies focused on biophysical studies of ion channel gating at the University of Miami School of Medicine. 

Jeffrey S. Mogil, Ph.D.Jeffrey S. Mogil, Ph.D., is the E.P. Taylor Professor of Pain Studies, the Canada Research Chair in the Genetics of Pain and the director of the Alan Edwards Centre for Research on Pain at McGill University. He has made seminal contributions to the field of pain genetics and is a recognized authority in the fields of sex differences in pain and pain testing methods in the laboratory mouse. Dr. Mogil is the recipient of multiple lifetime achievement awards, including the Frederick Kerr Basic Science Research Award from the American Pain Society and the Donald O. Hebb Award from the Canadian Psychological Association. He served for eight years as section editor of the journal Pain, was the chair of the Scientific Program Committee of the 13th World Congress on Pain and is currently a councilor at the International Association for the Study of Pain. He received his Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Bryan Moyer, Ph. D.Bryan Moyer, Ph.D., is the scientific director of the Neuroscience Department at Amgen Inc., where he leads drug discovery teams to identify novel analgesics and heads the electrophysiology group. He has a strong background in the molecular/cellular biology, functional expression and screening of ion channels. Prior to his position at Amgen, Dr. Moyer was the associate director of ion channel biology at Senomyx. His responsibilities included the discovery, cloning, expression and screening of novel ion channels expressed in taste receptor cells. He received his Ph.D. in physiology from Dartmouth Medical School, where he worked on CFTR trafficking and function in polarized epithelial cells, and did postdoctoral work at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA, where he studied vesicular trafficking from endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to Golgi compartments.

Eric J. Nestler, M.D., Ph. DEric J. Nestler, M.D., Ph.D., is the Nash Family Professor of Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, where he also serves as dean for Academic and Scientific Affairs and director of the Friedman Brain Institute. The goal of his research is to better understand the molecular mechanisms of addiction and depression based on work in animal models and to use this information to develop improved treatments for these disorders. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and current president of the Society for Neuroscience. Dr. Nestler served on the Yale faculty from 1987 to 2000, where he was the Elizabeth Mears and House Jameson Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobiology and director of the Division of Molecular Psychiatry. He moved to Dallas in 2000 where he served as the Lou and Ellen McGinley Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center until he moved to New York in 2008. He is a past president of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. He received his B.A., Ph.D., M.D. and psychiatry residency training from Yale University.

Amy Hauck Newman, Ph.D.Amy Hauck Newman, Ph.D., is the acting scientific director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse Intramural Research Program. Her research focuses on the design and synthesis of novel small molecules to study the structure and function of the dopamine and serotonin transporters and the dopamine D2 receptor family (D2/D3/D4). Compounds with high affinities and selectivities for these specific targets are prepared for characterization at the cellular and molecular levels. Structure-activity relationships are built on the affinities and functional efficacies of these molecules and the 3D-structures of the target proteins, based on computational models from crystal structures or homologous proteins. In addition, specific tools such as fluorescent, photoactive and/or radiolabeled ligands are synthesized for structure-function studies. Through these efforts, her team has identified a class of novel and atypical dopamine uptake inhibitors that are not cocaine-like and are being developed for the treatment of psychostimulant use disorders. They have created novel fluorescent ligands that have allowed the elucidation of drug-transporter interaction and visualization of transporter trafficking. Dr. Newman’s laboratory also has elucidated the molecular determinants of selectivity and efficacy at the dopamine D3 receptor, based on the D3 crystal structure and a novel synthon strategy, leading to preclinical candidates for development as therapeutics for the treatment of opioid use disorders. She received her Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry from Virginia Commonwealth University. 

MaryAnn Pelleymounter, Ph.D.MaryAnn Pelleymounter, Ph.D., is a program director in the Division of Translational Research at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. She leads the NINDS Neurological Disorder and NIH Pain (HEAL) Biomarker Initiatives and is a scientific project manager for the Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Program. She has more than 25 years of experience in scientific research and more than 20 years of experience in drug discovery and development. Her scientific training is in the field of behavioral neuroscience with a focus on age-related cognitive dysfunction, neurodegeneration and neuropharmacology. Previous positions include research on drug discovery and development in the therapeutic areas of neurodegeneration and neuropsychiatry and obesity and metabolic disease therapeutics at Amgen and scientific leadership roles directing in vivo pharmacology at Neurocrine Biosciences and leading the biology drug discovery effort for obesity therapeutics at Bristol Myers Squibb. Dr. Pelleymounter has more than 60 published original research articles, reviews and book chapters; is the author of multiple published patents relating to the discovery and use of leptin; and has received numerous research grants and awards in the fields of cognition, aging and neuropsychiatry. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Colorado and conducted her postdoctoral research at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill). 

Randall T. Peterson, Ph.D.Randall T. Peterson, Ph.D., is the L. S. Skaggs Presidential Endowed Professor and dean of the College of Pharmacy at the University of Utah. He is a chemical biologist whose research utilizes high-throughput screening technologies to discover new drug candidates for cardiovascular and nervous system disorders. Unlike conventional drug discovery programs that utilize simplified, in vitro assays, the Peterson lab screens using living zebrafish, ensuring that the drug candidates discovered are active in vivo. Several of the compounds discovered by the Peterson laboratory have become widely used research tools or are in clinical development. Previously Dr. Peterson spent 14 years as a faculty member at Harvard University, where he was the Charles Addison and Elizabeth Ann Sanders Chair in Basic Science at Harvard Medical School, Scientific Director of the MGH Cardiovascular Research Center and Senior Associate Member of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University where he studied as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute predoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Stuart Schreiber and completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Mark Fishman at Massachusetts General Hospital. 

Linda Porter, Ph.D.Linda Porter, Ph.D., directs the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Pain Policy and Planning. She plays an essential role in promoting the objectives and activities of the NIH Pain Consortium and the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee, whose missions, respectively, are to advance the trans-NIH and interagency pain research agenda. She co-chaired the development of the National Pain Strategy and the Federal Pain Research Strategy and now is involved with activities related to the NIH HEAL Initiative. Previously Dr. Porter served on the faculty of the Uniformed Services University, where she directed an NIH-funded research program on sensory-motor integration. She has been recognized for her work in advancing the federal pain research agenda and efforts on moving forward the National Pain Strategy by a President’s Award from the American Academy of Pain Management, NIH Director’s Awards, and the Emma and John Bonica Public Service Award from the American Pain Society. She received her B.Sc. in physical therapy from McGill University and her Ph.D. in neuroscience from Boston University and trained in neurophysiology at Rockefeller University.

Kurt Rasmussen, Ph.D.Kurt Rasmussen, Ph.D., is the director of the Division of Therapeutics and Medical Consequences at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, leading their efforts to promote the development of safe and effective pharmacotherapies, behavioral therapies and devices to treat addiction. Previously he worked as a senior research scientist in the Neuroscience Division of Eli Lilly & Co., leading efforts to discover novel treatments for psychiatric disorders such as depression and schizophrenia. He is a research scientist in the field of neuropharmacology and neurotherapeutic drug development with extensive experience in senior scientific and management leadership positions in the pharmaceutical industry and government. Dr. Rasmussen’s career spans 30 years of highly innovative scientific research in neuroscience pharmaceutical discovery, from hypothesis generation to clinical candidate evaluation. He received his A.B. with honors and distinction from Cornell University, his Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology from Princeton University, and was a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine.

Rebecca Roof, Ph.D.Rebecca (Becky) Roof, Ph.D., is a program director in the Division of Translational Research at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, where she oversees the Innovation Grants to Nurture Initial Translational Efforts Program. She also works in the NIH Blueprint for Neurotherapeutics Program. Previously, she was a program director at the National Institute of Nursing Research, where she managed a clinical portfolio focusing on self-management of chronic diseases. This portfolio focused on patient-centered behavioral interventions. Prior to that, Dr. Roof was part of the NINDS Small Business Innovation Research and IGNITE Programs and was part of the launch of IGNITE. She received her Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Michigan. Her thesis work was on the development of peptide inhibitors of a cell signaling protein. Her postdoctoral fellowship was in the NINDS Intramural Molecular Neuropharmacology Branch, where she studied allosteric modulators and functionally selective ligands to dopamine receptors. This work involved high-throughput screening and characterization of hits.


Joni L. Rutter, Ph.D.Joni L. Rutter, Ph.D., is the deputy director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. She is responsible for planning, executing and assessing the Center’s complex and multifaceted pre-clinical and clinical programs and is a key national spokesperson for translational science. She guides the NCATS Advisory Council and the Cures Acceleration Network Review Board activities and serves as the Center’s scientific liaison to All of Us, helping to establish more robust interactions with NCATS programs. Before joining NCATS, she served as the director of scientific programs within the All of Us Research Program of the Precision Medicine Initiative at the NIH, where she led the scientific, programmatic development and implementation efforts to build a national research cohort of one million or more U.S. participants to advance precision medicine. Prior to that, Dr. Rutter led the Division of Neuroscience and Behavior at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In this role, she developed and coordinated research on basic and clinical neuroscience, brain and behavioral development, genetics, epigenetics, computational neuroscience, bioinformatics and drug discovery and coordinated the NIDA Genetics Consortium and biospecimen repository. Dr. Rutter is internationally recognized for her work in basic and clinical research in human genetics and in the study of genetic and environmental risk factors focusing on the fields of cancer and addiction. Her primary scientific objective is to integrate genetic principles with environmental influences to inform more deeply our understanding of how individual and societal factors impact health and disease. She received her Ph.D. in pharmacology and toxicology from Dartmouth Medical School and completed a fellowship at the National Cancer Institute. 

Philip Sanderson, Ph.D.Philip Sanderson, Ph.D., is a project leader and manager in the Therapeutics Development Branch of the Division of Pre-Clinical Innovation at NCATS. In this role, he is responsible for managing all phases of a project’s life, from due diligence, selection and research plan development to close out. His projects span the range of drug discovery and early development with small molecules, proteins and biologics. Areas of particular interest include novel collaborations and models for intellectual property generation and commercialization, the use of new technologies and processes to facilitate late-stage small-molecule lead optimization and development candidate identification, and drug repurposing. Dr. Sanderson’s programs to date involve the development of treatments for neglected tropical diseases, heterotopic ossification disorders, dystrophies and degenerative diseases of the eye, leukemia and fibrosis. Prior to joining the NIH, he spent 20 years at Merck in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry, where he led discovery and development teams and contributed to the identification of drug candidates for the treatment of infectious disease, heart disease, neurodegenerative disease, psychiatric disease and cancer. He is an inventor on 27 issued U.S. patents. He received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Cambridge.

Karlie Sharma, Ph.D.Karlie Sharma, Ph.D., is a program officer for the Common Fund Program, Illuminating the Druggable Genome (IDG), at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). She also is involved in a number of additional initiatives at NCATS, including the Discovering New Therapeutic Uses for Existing Molecules Program and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Programs. Her efforts on these programs resulted in an NCATS Director’s Collaborator Award in 2017 and the Kelly Government Solutions Distinguished Achievement Award in 2018. Prior to joining NCATS, Dr. Sharma was a postdoctoral fellow in the Laboratory of Host Defenses headed by Dr. Harry Malech at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Her research was primarily focused on studying autoimmune disease, specifically graft versus host disease, and developing therapies to treat and/or prevent occurrence of the disease. For her work, she was awarded the Fellow Award for Research Excellence and the American Society of Hematology Abstract Achievement Award in 2015. She received her Ph.D. in molecular physiology and biophysics from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, in 2013 for her work on myotonic dystrophy. 

Anton Simeonov, Ph.D.Anton Simeonov, Ph.D., is the scientific director of the Division of Preclinical Innovation at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health. The author or inventor on more than 160 peer-reviewed scientific publications and patents, Dr. Simeonov has a truly diverse background, ranging from bioorganic chemistry and molecular biology to clinical diagnostic research and development. Prior to joining NIH in November 2004, he was a senior scientist at Caliper Life Sciences, a leading developer of microfluidic technologies, where he was responsible for basic research on novel assay methodologies and development of microfluidic products for research and clinical diagnostics. He received his Ph.D. in bioorganic chemistry from the University of Southern California and his B.A. in chemistry from Concordia College and then trained as a postdoctoral fellow at the Scripps Research Institute under Richard Lerner and Kim Janda.

G. Sitta Sittampalam, Ph.D.G. Sitta Sittampalam, Ph.D., is senior advisor to the director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where his responsibilities span the development of innovative public-private partnership models, identifying new translational science technologies and training and education in drug discovery and mentoring young scientists. He joined NCATS in 2011 as a project manager for the Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases (TRND) Program. He also is joint editor-in-chief of the Assay Guidance Manual, a National Library of Medicine/National Center for Biotechnology Information (NLM/NCBI) eBook and serves on multiple scientific advisory boards including Science Translational Medicine. Dr. Sittampalam has spent approximately 38 years in drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry at Eli Lilly & Co. and in academia at the University of Kansas and his experience spans the development of biotherapeutics, small-molecule drugs, high-throughput screening (HTS) and lead optimization in multiple therapeutic modalities. His contributions have been the development of bioanalytical assays to support discovery/development, investigational new drug (IND) regulatory submissions and innovative new technology development in the preclinical space, both in the lab and in management positions. He received his B.Sc. in biology and chemistry from the University of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), his M.S in analytical chemistry from Bowling Green State University and his Ph.D. in chemistry and postdoctoral training immune-analytical chemistry from the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Garret Stuber, Ph.D.Garret Stuber, Ph.D., is a professor of anesthesiology and pain medicine and pharmacology at the University of Washington. The research in his lab at the Center for the Neurobiology of Addiction, Pain and Emotion focuses on the neural circuit mechanisms that underlie adaptive and maladaptive behavioral states that mediate reward-related as well as stress- and anxiety-related behaviors. To accomplish this, the laboratory employs multiple cutting-edge techniques both in vivo and in vitro.  The Stuber Lab’s ultimate research goal is to delineate the functional neurocircuit architecture that orchestrates precise behavioral states. Previously Dr. Stuber had his lab in the Departments of Psychiatry and Cell Biology and Physiology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He began to adopt optogenetic techniques to study reward-related behaviors at the University of California, San Francisco. He received his B.S. in psychology with a minor in chemistry from the University of Washington and his Ph.D. in neurobiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he studied rapid dopamine dynamics during cocaine self-administration with Drs. R. Mark Wightman and Regina Carelli. For his postdoctoral work, Dr. Stuber joined the lab of Dr. Antonello Bonci, then at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center at UCSF, where he studied how excitatory synaptic transmission in the ventral tegmental area is altered following reward-related learning. 

Amir Tamiz, Ph.D.Amir Tamiz, Ph.D., is an associate director at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the director of the Division of Translational Research. The mission of DTR is to accelerate the application of basic research findings to patient use for neurological disorders and stroke by providing funding, expertise and resources to the research community. Dr. Tamiz and his team advance this mission through several flagship programs spanning therapeutics and device development, model development and screening and biomarker discovery and validation. His team also is responsible for administration of the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs. Prior to joining NIH in 2012, Dr. Tamiz held scientific and management positions in research and development of therapeutic programs at Corvas International (acquired by Dendreon), CovX (now part of Pfizer) and Alba Therapeutics. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Oregon and conducted postdoctoral research at the Department of Neuroscience at Georgetown University Medical Center.

Rita Valentino, Ph.D.Rita Valentino, Ph.D., is the director of the Division of Neuroscience and Behavior at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Her career spans 30 years of academic, research and leadership experience in neuropsychopharmacology, substance abuse, stress neurobiology and viscero-cognitive processing. She is recognized for her research on the effects of stress and the impact of sex, age and coping style on behavioral and cognitive health and how this can determine vulnerability to substance use. Dr. Valentino is a Fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Brain Behavior Foundation, and the editor-in-chief of Neurobiology of Stress. She held faculty positions at George Washington University and Hahnemann University and was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine prior to joining NIDA. She received her Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Michigan and completed postdoctoral fellowships at the University of North Carolina and The Salk Institute.

Nora D,. Volkow, M.D.Nora D. Volkow, M.D., is the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health. Her work has been instrumental in demonstrating that drug addiction is a disease of the human brain. As a research psychiatrist and scientist, she pioneered the use of brain imaging to investigate the toxic effects and addictive properties of abusable drugs. Her studies have documented changes in the dopamine system affecting, among others, the functions of frontal brain regions involved with motivation, drive and pleasure in addiction. Dr. Volkow also has made important contributions to the neurobiology of obesity, ADHD and aging. She was born in Mexico, attended the Modern American School, and received her M.D. from the National University of Mexico in Mexico City, where she received the Robins Award for best medical student of her generation. 

Clifford Woolf, MB, BCh, Ph.D.Clifford Woolf, MB, BCh, Ph.D., is the director of the F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center at Boston Children’s Hospital and a professor of neurology and neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. He works on pain and the regeneration and degeneration of the nervous system with a focus on adaptive and maladaptive neural plasticity and its mechanisms. Previously he was a professor of neurobiology at University College London and the first Richard J. Kitz Professor of Anesthesiology Research at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Over his career Dr. Woolf has received many honors and prizes. He was awarded the Gill Distinguished Scientist Award and the Reeve-Irvine Medal in 2017 and in 2015, the Kerr award from the American Pain Society and a Founders Award from the American Academy of Pain Medicine and he became an honorary fellow of the Irish College of Anesthetists. He was awarded a Javits Award from the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke in 2011 and in 2015 was appointed to the NINDS Board of Scientific Councilors. He received his MD, BCh, and Ph.D. from the University of the Witwatersrand.

Venetia Zachariou, Ph.D.Venetia Zachariou, Ph.D., is a professor of neuroscience and pharmacological sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. Her laboratory focuses on signal transduction and epigenetic mechanisms of central nervous system disorders. Her team utilizes advanced genetic mouse models, brain biochemistry and genomic assays to understand the function and regulation of intracellular complexes that control the actions of opioid and non-opioid analgesics. Dr. Zachariou’s team also has developed models to study opioid addiction under chronic pain states. Another line of her lab’s research investigates the signal transduction pathways modulating affective and sensory components of chronic pain and evaluates novel epigenetic targets for the treatment of peripheral neuropathy. She is a member of the editorial board of Biological Psychiatry and Molecular Pain and a member of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. She received her Ph.D. in pharmacology from the Medical College of Georgia and completed her postdoctoral training in molecular psychiatry at Yale University in the laboratory of Dr. M. Picciotto.