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Training the Next Generation – Two Junior Faculty Scholars Begin Training in Women’s Health and Addictive Behaviors

March 12, 2015

Two new junior faculty Scholars, Marci Mitchell, Ph.D., and Philip Smith, Ph.D., have begun their training in conducting interdisciplinary research on women’s health and addictive behaviors.

The National Institutes of Healthfunded training program – Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) – provides mentoring, team science experience and coaching for entrylevel faculty to begin research careers in the increasingly important area of addictive behaviors in women.

“Disorders involving addictive behaviors are associated with some of the leading causes of preventable disease and mortality among women. Our singular training program is developing investigators who can make lasting contributions to the prevention and treatment of addictive behaviors by spanning many disciplines to fully understand this highly prevalent health concern,” said Carolyn M. Mazure, Norma Weinberg Spungen and Joan Lebson Bildner Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology.

Dr. Mazure is Principal Investigator for the Yale BIRCWH program, which is funded by a $2.5 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health. The five-year grant program began in 2010.

Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH) Scholar Program 2014

Yale BIRCWH Scholars:

Marci Mitchell

Associate Research Scientist in Psychiatry, Ph.D., from the University of Florida

Research Area: Dr. Mitchell is investigating the effects of sex and gender on impulsive choice behavior in addiction. She initially pursued this area of investigation in her doctoral work, using an animal model. Now she is bridging the gap between preclinical and clinical research to become an interdisciplinary investigator interested in translating findings into treatments and public health practice. Dr. Mitchell will use data from cocaine-dependent and healthy control subjects to determine whether there are gender differences in impulsive choice behavior and to determine if there are functional differences in how women and men process information in making choices. The purpose of this work is to understand the mechanisms of choice so interventions can be developed to affect those mechanisms for positive change.

Mentor: Marc Potenza, Ph.D., M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, in the Child Study Center and of Neurobiology, Director of WHRY’s Addictive Behaviors Research Core.

Philip Smith

Associate Research Scientist in Psychiatry, Ph.D., from the State University of New York at Buffalo

Research Area: Dr. Smith is examining differences between women and men in smoking behavior and smoking cessation. In particular, he is investigating smoking cessation approaches using medications such as the nicotine patch and varenicline. His work involves determining which methods may help women improve their chances of quitting smoking, as previous studies have shown that women are less likely to be able to quit than men. He is also part of a study of the prevalence of tobacco use among homeless military veterans and the frequency with which these male and female veterans are referred for therapy for nicotine dependence. This study is examining whether these factors differ between male and female veterans.

Mentor: Sherry McKee, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Director of Yale Behavioral Pharmacology Laboratory, Director of Yale Specialized Center of Research to Develop Gender-Sensitive Treatment for Tobacco Dependence.

Faculty Leaders for the Yale BIRCWH:

Carolyn M. Mazure, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator Norma Weinberg Spungen and Joan Lebson Bildner Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology; Director, Women’s Health Research at Yale.

Dr. Mazure’s research focuses on the interplay of stress, depression, and addictive behaviors. She has a particular interest in gender-specific predictors of illness onset and treatment outcome, and issues of importance to women’s health.

Sherry McKee, Ph.D.

Research Director Professor of Psychiatry; Director, Yale Translational Center to Develop Gender-Sensitive Treatment for Tobacco Dependence; Director, Yale Behavioral Pharmacology Laboratory.

Dr. McKee’s work focuses on the development of clinical and translational research, emphasizing gender differences and gender-sensitive interventions, for addictive disorders involving tobacco and alcohol.

Jacob K. Tebes, Ph.D.

Team Science Advisor Professor of Psychiatry; Director of the Division of Prevention & Community Research and The Consultation Center.

The Consultation Center, within the Connecticut Mental Health Center, provides prevention and health promotion services to individuals and families, consults to community and government agencies, and conducts prevention and community-based research.

Submitted by Carissa R Violante on March 12, 2015