David Anderson

David Anderson

David Anderson edits NIDA’s research newsletter, NIDA Notes, and is one of NIDA’s top science writers. He thinks it’s a good gig to follow the progress of science and spread the news about new findings that help people. Right now he’s enjoying all the new ways to communicate that putting the newsletter online make possible. He likes to play tennis, read, travel, walk around, and get together with friends. Some favorite places: Arezzo (Italy); National Bison Refuge (Montana); Dinosaur National Monument (Utah); Mile-Around Woods (Vermont); the corner of Hoyt Street and Montrose Parkway (Maryland).

Josie Anderson

Josie Anderson

Josie Anderson oversees NIDA multimedia, including video and still imagery. She has been with NIDA for four years, creating content for the website, managing NIDA’s digital media, and working alongside each member of the Office of Science Policy and Communications team. Prior to NIDA, Josie was a Broadcast Journalist with the United States Air Force for ten years. Josie holds a Masters in Interactive Journalism from American University.

Dr. Ruben Baler

Ruben Baler

Dr. Ruben Baler is a native of Argentina, fan of soccer and more specifically of Boca Juniors; he received a Master’s degree in cell biology from the Hebrew University in Israel and a doctorate degree in molecular biology from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. He derives great pleasure from studying the neurobiology of pleasure. He has two kids, 22 and 30, so when he lectures about the neuroscience of risky behaviors in adolescence, he talks from personal experience.

Mike Baumann

Mike Baumann

Mike Baumann is a Staff Scientist at NIDA’s Intramural Research Program in Baltimore.  Mike and his colleagues examine the biological effects of newly-emerging drugs of abuse which are often known as “designer drugs” or “new psychoactive substances” (NPS).  “Bath salts” (synthetic stimulants) and “Spice” (synthetic cannabinoids) are common examples of NPS. These substances are man-made alternatives to more common drugs of abuse, and little is known about their effects on the brain or other organs in the body. As a parent of three children, Mike is dedicated to educating the public about the risks associated with drugs of abuse, especially NPS. When not working in the laboratory, he enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, camping and kayaking.

Dr. Carlos Blanco

Dr. Carlos Blanco

Dr. Carlos Blanco is the Director of the Division of Epidemiology, Services, and Prevention Research at NIDA. He is a nationally known expert in the epidemiology and treatment of addictive disorders. His accomplishments include, among others, a detailed examination of the course and stages of substance use disorders, the development of methods to quantify the generalizability of clinical trials, the development and testing of behavioral interventions to improve the outcome of individuals with addictive disorders, and the creation of a virtual map of psychiatric disorders, based on empirical data, to guide research into the causes of mental disorders. He is a graduate of Universidad AutÓnoma de Madrid (Spain) and completed his psychiatry residency and a research fellowship at Columbia University. In his free time, Dr. Blanco enjoys reading and traveling all over the world.

Dr. Antonello Bonci

Antonello Bonci

Now on the Chat is Dr. Antonello "Anto" Bonci, a neuroscientist who heads up NIDA’s labs. Dr. Bonci got his medical degree in Rome, Italy, and later moved to America to work at the University of California at San Francisco.  He moved all the way across the country to become the Director of NIDA's Research Program in Baltimore, Maryland.  Dr. Bonci's research explores how drugs of abuse, such as cocaine, affect the connections between neurons in the brain.

Dr. Ericka Boone

Dr. Ericka Boone

Now online is Dr. Ericka Boone. Dr. Boone is an expert at understanding how drugs affect the brain and behavior. While Dr. Boone currently serves as the Director for the NIH Division of Loan Repayment, prior to this position, she was a scientist working at NIDA. A large part of her work at NIDA involved translating complex scientific research into everyday language that non-scientists can easily understand. Before coming to NIDA, Dr. Boone was a research scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she conducted research on how chemicals in the brain help to shape the way humans bond with their mates and babies. Dr. Boone loves participating in Chat Day and is excited to answer your questions today!

Dr. Redonna Chandler

Redonna Chandler

Dr. Redonna Chandler is online and ready to answer your questions. She is a psychologist who specializes in drug abuse treatment and services. She works at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences that seeks to improve the way research is conducted to improve the development of treatments – including drug treatment.  She has 3 children and no pets but a den of red tail foxes have taken up residence in her back yard.  Her most interesting travel experience was spending a semester living in a remote rural village in El Salvador where there was no running water or electricity -- and she slept on the ground and bathed in the river.

Dr. Wilson Compton

Dr. Wilson Compton

Dr. Wilson Compton is a psychiatrist, and is NIDA’s Deputy Director. He loves to study the interactions between people and their environments that contribute to drug use.  He has done a lot of research focusing on the epidemiology of drug abuse, HIV prevention and co-occurring mental and drug use disorders.  Dr. Compton loves the beach, and likes to spend nearly every weekend at his house in Bethany Beach, Delaware.  He enjoys playing games such as—bridge, scrabble, crosswords, and sudoku.

Michelle Corbin

Michelle Corbin

Ms. Corbin leads NIDAMED, the Institute’s clinician outreach program. She works to ensure that all the doctors in the country understand the latest science on drug abuse and addiction. This is so critically important for doctors to be able to take care of teenagers as well as their parents if struggling with drug use and addiction. Michelle has teenagers of her own, Nicholas (16) and Catherine (13) that keep her busy with ice hockey, softball and all things teenagers love to do.  In her spare time, Michelle likes to run, read and relax with yoga and meditation.

Jessica Cotto

Jessica Cotto

Jessica Cotto is a Health Science Policy Analyst at NIDA. She earned an MPH degree in Epidemiology & Biostatistics from the George Washington University and is interested in the prevalence and distribution of drug use among teens and adults. Jessica is originally from Los Angeles and enjoys snowboarding, photography and having fun with her family, 7-year old Isabella, 4-year old Santiago, and her husband, Dennis.

Dr. Aria Crump

Aria Crump

Dr. Aria Crump is a scientist in the Prevention Research Branch at NIDA. She received a doctoral degree in Behavioral Sciences from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and has worked since then on research to improve the health and well-being of children, adolescents, and young adults. She worked as a professor in Public and Community Health before joining the National Institute on Drug Abuse. She loves animals and enjoys spending time with her family.

Dr. Bethany Deeds

Dr. Bethany Deeds

Dr. Bethany Deeds helps manage programs related to why people get addicted to drugs, how to prevent it and how to treat them, and is an interdisciplinary scientist, which means she has expertise in several scientific fields. Dr. Deeds is interested in understanding how the social environment (where we work, play, learn, and live) effects substance use and abuse and by what means it can be translated into prevention interventions. She is also the program official for the ABCD Study which observes what affects kids’ brain development as they grow up and how that impacts their daily life. Dr. Deeds went to high school in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. When she is not enjoying her work life, you can find her enjoying her personal life—watching science fiction with her husband, crafting with her daughter, and weight lifting.

Kim DiFonzo

Kim DiFonzo

Kim DiFonzo works in the press office at NIDA. A big part of her job is setting up interviews between scientists and reporters about topics related to drug use and addiction. When she is not at NIDA, Kim is busy playing volleyball or on the sideline of a basketball or soccer game cheering for one of her three kids. Kim grew up on Long Island, NY and got her psychology degree from Lynchburg College in VA.

Dr. Gaya Dowling

Dr. Gaya Dowling

Please welcome your CHAT DAY moderator---Dr. Gaya Dowling. Dr. Dowling oversees the new ABCD Study, which will look at what affects kids’ brain development as they grow up and how that impacts important aspects of their life like how they do in school. She’s excited to moderate the CHAT again this year, a job she has done for 8 years, because it’s the most fun part of her job at NIDA! Although Dr. Dowling’s favorite subjects in school were math and science, she never expected that studying science would give her a chance to go to the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, as she did when NIDA’s work on the HBO film Addiction won an award. In her free time, she loves to play with Legos with her two kids—a nine-year old girl and an eleven-year old boy. Her biggest build…the Shield Helicarrier, almost 3000 pieces.

Dr. Emily Einstein

Dr. Emily Einstein

Dr. Emily Einstein is a neuroscientist who joined the Science Policy branch at NIDA this year. Dr. Einstein is interested in how the rapidly growing understanding of how the brain works can be applied to improve diagnostics and treatments for diseases like addiction. Her hobbies include running marathons, baking pies, and singing in a choir. She is very excited for her first Chat Day!

Mark Fleming

Mark Fleming

Mark Fleming started the NIDA website in 1995, and has been with us 30 years! He established the Visual Media Unit at NIDA to provide photographic and graphic arts support for NIDA’s labs in 1986. As webmaster and head of NIDA’s Digital Communications Branch he has worked to keep the NIDA web sites up to date in both content and technology, and NIDA was one of the first to introduce a mobile site for phones and tablets! Today, he is monitoring your questions and making sure things go smoothly with our chat. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in zoology from Miami University in Ohio and a Master of Arts in visual communications from Ohio University. In his off time, he enjoys shooting pool, and helping with his daughter's weekend equestrian competitions.

Tara Garwood

Tara Garwood

Tara Garwood has been NIDA’s Social Media Strategist for one year, having started here during NDAFW 2017. She gets to spend her days using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other platforms to raise awareness of NIDA’s research and programs and learning some cool science along the way. Her prior government experience includes acting as the sole Video Production Specialist in a large training division at the Food and Drug Administration and working on the U.S. Secret Service video production team. Tara loves movies, technology, reading (especially sci-fi), singing, playing guitar, and hanging out with her husband and two Boston Terriers.

Dr. Meyer Glantz

Dr. Meyer Glantz

Dr. Meyer Glantz has 2 jobs related to drug abuse. His first is working with research to try to understand the nature of mental health disorders and the ways in which alcohol and drug use become disorders. His second job is working with patients in psychotherapy to help them overcome mental health and substance use disorders. He spends his spare time with family and friends or in his workshop working with mechanical and electronic projects.

Dr. Amy Goldstein

Dr. Amy Goldstein

Dr. Amy Goldstein has joined us. She recently started working at NIDA, in our Prevention Research Branch. Amy was trained as clinical child psychologist and did a lot of work in schools helping kids with problems such as anxiety, depression, and attention deficit disorder. She can answer your questions about substances as well as why teens sometimes feel sad or anxious. Amy grew up in New York, but has lived and worked in Cleveland, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. Her primary job involves working with researchers across the country to develop and test programs to stop people from smoking or using drugs before they start. When not in the office, Amy can be found chasing her three kids, riding her bike, binge watching shows on Netflix, and catching up on sleep.

Dr. Joshua Gordon

Dr. Joshua Gordon

Dr. Joshua Gordon is the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Gordon is a psychiatrist who has treated patients with disorders like anxiety and depression. He also does research aimed at understanding what is happening in the brain in people with these disorders. Much of his research has focused on how brain circuits work—pathways of nerve cells connected across the brain that scientists believe are central to how the brain functions. Dr. Gordon’s early interest in science was sparked by the PBS show NOVA. What he loves about science is asking questions and trying to figure out how to answer them. Along with science, he is an avid cycler, and he recently spent a summer pedaling across the United States from California to Delaware.

Dr. Steven Grant

Steven Grant

Do you have questions about drugs or the brain? Ask Dr. Steven Grant, a neuroscientist with a background in biology, chemistry, and physics. His favorite subjects in high school were English and History, but he developed a liking for science in college and went on to do post-doctoral work in brain systems and drug withdrawal. The study he is most proud of is a brain imaging study of cocaine craving that showed that substance abuse involves more than brain areas traditionally thought to be part of drug use, and opened the door to investigating the contribution of other cognitive (“thinking”) processes in addiction. He likes to read a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction and is interested in the performing arts. He has two daughters—both live in Brooklyn, New York and even though they don’t appear in the show “Girls,” they write for The New York Observer and CollegeHumor.com.

Dr. Steven W. Gust

Dr. Steven W. Gust

Dr. Steven W. Gust coordinates NIDA’s International Program, which includes the Institute’s global research, research training, and education efforts.   In his position he interacts with researchers and governments around the world as they develop programs to address addiction.   He also has a lot of research experience in psychopharmacology which is the study of how drugs affect the brain and cognitive abilities.  In his spare time he restores the 1842 farm house he lives in with his wife and various pets.

Dr. Shwe Mra Gyaw

Dr. Shwe Mra Gyaw

Dr. Shwe Mra Gyaw, who hails from Myanmar (Burma), is a medical officer in NIDA medication development program for treatment of addiction. He is responsible for the execution and management of the clinical trials and he works in collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry, academia, and other government agencies on clinical projects. He provides guidance to scientists and institute program officials on a wide range of issue related to the safety and efficacy evaluation of promising agents to treat substance use disorders. During his free time, he enjoys going to gym, biking, hiking and taking Lexi (his pooch) out for walk.

Dr. Elizabeth Hoffman

Dr. Elizabeth Hoffman

Dr. Elizabeth Hoffman is fascinated by the relationship between human behavior and how our brains are organized. She is a Scientific Program Manager for the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study, which looks at how activities like playing sports, sleeping, screen time, and many other life experiences affect kids’ brain development as they grow up. Dr. Hoffman spent her childhood in Newton, Massachusetts where she got her first taste of psychology in high school. She was so intrigued that she studied psychology in college and later pursued a graduate degree in neuropsychology. When not working, you can find Dr. Hoffman hanging out with her two teenagers, her husband, and adorable dog, Stella (pictured here). Dr. Hoffman also loves theatre, traveling, and rowing crew!

Dr. Katia Delrahim Howlett

Dr. Katia Delrahim Howlett

Dr. Katia Delrahim Howlett is interested in the prevention and treatment of substance use and has focused on the promotion of healthy behaviors to combat use.  As Deputy Director of NIDA’s Division of Extramural Research, she works with fellow colleagues on Trans-NIH Initiatives including the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Project. As a mom of three young children, she is very interested in understanding what youth and teens think about drugs and drug use and how healthcare providers can better serve their patients. She holds a Master's in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University, a Master's in Public Policy from Pepperdine University, and a Doctorate in Public Health from University of California, San Diego. When not at work, Katia runs after her three children Samara, Eliot, and Evan! 

Emily Jones

Emily Jones heads NIDA’s science policy team and has a passion for increasing access to treatment for individuals with substance use disorders, particularly individuals that lack insurance or face other barriers to care. She’s a DC-area native who enjoys exploring the city in her spare time, particularly the hot restaurant scene!  For fun, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, hiking, participating in a book club, and planning weekend excursions for fun activities like whale watching. 

Dr. Mary Kautz

Dr. Mary Kautz

Dr. Mary Kautz has a broad background in behavioral pharmacology (studying the action and effect of psycho-active, mood-altering drugs on behavior, as well as analyzing how behavioral factors contribute to the use of drugs). She is an acting branch chief of NIDA’s Behavioral & Cognitive Neuroscience Branch and is interested in the neurobehavioral factors that underlie increased risk for and/or resilience to drug abuse and addiction. She also serves as NIDA’s liaison for a trans-NIH interagency Program with the FDA to conduct research that supports regulatory activities over tobacco products. Originally from south central Pennsylvania, she enjoys preparing German foods, hiking, singing in choirs, and spending time with her son and cat. 

Heather Kimmel

Heather Kimmel

Heather Kimmel has a PhD in Neuroscience and spent the first part of her career trying to understand how drugs of abuse, such as cocaine, affect the brain and behavior. At NIDA, she helps researchers all over the country conduct epidemiological studies to understand patterns of drug use and their impacts on physical and mental health. When she is not at work, Heather enjoys spending time with her family (husband, two kids, and two cats!), exploring this country’s national parks, SCUBA diving, and running.

Dr. George F. Koob

Dr. George F. Koob

Dr. George F. Koob is the Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. He is an internationally recognized expert on alcohol and stress, and the neurobiology of addiction. Dr. Koob’s research explores how the brain and body respond to alcohol, and why some people who drink become addicted while others do not. He is frequently featured in the national news as an authority on alcohol use disorders and college drinking. Dr. Koob describes himself as an “army brat,” who was born in Okinawa, Japan, and lived up and down the east coast of the U.S. and in France while his father served in the U.S. Army. He earned his Ph.D. at the Johns Hopkins University, and before coming to NIAAA was an award-winning researcher at The Scripps Research Institute and teacher at the University of California San Diego. Dr. Koob enjoys traveling, speaking French, and gardening.

Carol Krause

Carol Krause

Carol Krause invented both CHAT DAY and National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week and manages these events every year. She is NIDA’s Communications Director and has a Master’s Degree she earned while covering the Watergate hearings many years ago. Ms. Krause has worked at both the U.S. Capitol and at the White House, and was a television reporter in Chicago and Indianapolis. She just raised 2 teenagers herself, a boy and a girl, who are now happy young adults. Ms. Krause has read all of the transcripts from CHAT DAY which has helped teach her what kids are curious about.

Dr. Kimberly LeBlanc

Dr. Kimberly LeBlanc

Dr. Kimberly LeBlanc is a neuroscientist whose research interests include how drugs of abuse and other rewards alter the brain to change motivation and behavior, as well as the biological and environmental factors that contribute to an increase risk of developing addiction. She recently joined NIDA as a program manager for the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study, which follows nearly 12,000 children across the nation through their teenage years to study how aspects of their environment and genetics affect their brain, social, and emotional development. She works with the scientists conducting the research to make sure the study is moving along smoothly. Dr. LeBlanc grew up in Huntsville, Alabama. She enjoys yoga, watching anime with her husband, and having dance parties with her 2.5-year-old son.

Dr. Jinhee Lee

Dr. Jinhee Lee

Dr. Jinhee Lee just joined NIDA about ten months ago, as the content management director in the communications office. She came from another agency, where she was the editor of the recent Surgeon General’s Report on Addiction. Jinhee grew up in Los Angeles, California but progressively moved out east for school and work. She is a pharmacist by training and has held various positions at FDA and SAMHSA. When she’s not working, Jinhee is usually spending time with her husband, 11-year-old daughter, and 8-year-old son, busy finishing up homework for graduate school, traveling, or spending time with friends.

Dr. Michelle Kim Leff

Michelle Kim Leff

Dr. Michelle Kim Leff is now online. Dr. Leff grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and attended Pattonville High School.  Since high school, she has attended school and worked in Boston, New York City, San Antonio, Washington DC, Seoul, South Korea, and now Baltimore.  She is a child/adolescent psychiatrist by training, and works as a research facilitator/administrator at the NIDA Intramural Research Program.  She lives in Baltimore Maryland with her husband. They have two grown daughters. She enjoys running, swimming, reading, and volunteers for Baltimore community organizations.

Suzanne Lim

Suzanne Lim

Suzanne Lim is a Health Communications Specialist within the Office of Health Communication and Education at FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products and has been with the FDA since 2015. She is responsible for reviewing and editing a variety of science-based content around tobacco products and is looking forward to sharing everything she knows about this topic! Before coming to the FDA she was at the University of Michigan earning her M.P.H. (go blue!). In her free time she enjoys traveling, binge watching shows, and hanging out with her French bulldog.

Janet Linton

Janet Linton

Janet Linton is one of our moderators today reviewing the questions you send in. She is an IT Specialist with NIDA’s web team and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Animation. In her job, she provides web, graphic, animation, and social media support, and maintains the National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week site. In her spare time, she is an avid sci-fi, fantasy reader, traditional artist, as well as a Disney and Pixar Enthusiast (that’s what started her love of animation)!

Dr. Roger Little

Dr. Roger Little

Dr. Roger Little is a neuroscientist who grew up in Vermont; he is interested in how genetics and the environment interact to predispose people to addiction, psychiatric, and neurological disorders. He has played bass guitar professionally since age 10. He and his wife Krista, who does research to develop new drugs to treat cancer, love to travel; especially to places that make wine. They have a Rottweiler named Gretel.

Dr. Jacqueline Lloyd

Dr. Jacqueline Lloyd

Dr. Jacqueline Lloyd is a scientist who studies how to help people avoid drug use and drug related problems, and abuse, and how to prevent addiction including drug-related HIV transmission.  Before working at NIDA, Jacqueline worked and taught at a university, did drug prevention trainings, and worked as a social worker with children, youth and families. Even though her favorite subjects in school were Spanish and math, Jacqueline always had an interest in “prevention” and discovering what really works to help people and prevent drug and behavioral health problems. One thing she enjoys about her work is helping scientists develop their research ideas, and getting young people interested in science. Outside of work, Jacqueline enjoys traveling, experiencing new cultures, as well as bike riding, dancing (especially salsa!) and just being outdoors, especially during the summertime.

Dr. Marsha Lopez

Marsha Lopez

Dr. Marsha Lopez’s experience runs the gamut from preclinical behavioral pharmacology (giving cocaine to rats) to military medical surveillance, but her current focus is drug epidemiology (the incidence, distribution, or control of a disease within a population) with an interest in marijuana (behavior, attitudes, policy), polysubstance use (abusing more than one kind of substance) and co-occurring psychiatric conditions (like using drugs and being depressed at the same time.)  While most of Marsha’s extended family lives in Argentina, she lives here with Marco (age 14), Gigi (age 11), Teddy (dog), and Halo (crested gecko). She chose a photo of Halo licking her eyeball as her avatar today.

Dr. Eric Murphy

Dr. Eric Murphy

Dr. Eric Murphy has spent his career looking at the relationship between emotion and attention in the brain. In particular, he has studied disorders that involve either too little attention to emotional things (like autism) or too much attention to emotional things (like depression), and what might be going on in the brain that leads to those behaviors. In addition, he has examined how brain systems involved in emotion and attention develop from childhood to adolescence, and how hormones might influence that development. When he isn’t working, Eric spends most of his time talking about bulldozers and dump trucks with his 3 year old son.

Vani Pariyadath

Vani Pariyadath

Vani Pariyadath has a background in neuroscience and computer science, and throughout her research career, she has striven to combine both these passions. At NIDA, her role focuses on encouraging research investigating brain mechanisms and changes related to substance use disorders. When not working, Vani spends her time participating in various nerdy pursuits, baking, or traveling with her family. Speaking of nerdy pursuits, in her picture, Vani can be seen dressed as Ms. Marvel for Halloween.

Dr. Denise Pintello

Dr. Denise Pintello

Dr. Denise Pintello is online now. Known as “Denny,” she worked at NIDA for 11 years and now works at the National Institute on Mental Health---and is still helping out during CHAT DAY!  While in college and grad school, she studied the impact of childhood trauma so she can talk to teens about both drug abuse and other mental health issues. One of her many fascinating jobs at NIMH involves overseeing studies that help make treatment more accessible for students struggling with mental health issues and drug addiction. For fun, Dr. Pintello spends time jogging with her German shepherd dog, tearing down walls in her home (renovating!), and traveling to beautiful locations to enjoy warm beaches, and climb mountains like Macchu Picchu!

Dr. Vijay Ramchandani

Dr. Vijay Ramchandani

Dr. Vijay Ramchandani, is a clinical pharmacologist who developed an interest in science and research in high school and while studying to become a pharmacist in Bombay, India. He received his Ph.D. at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he learned how to “do science”, and did a postdoctoral fellowship at Indiana University, where he learned how to “think science”. Vijay’s research aims to understand what happens to alcohol when you have a drink, i.e., where does it go, and what does it do to your body, i.e., how it affects brain function and behavior. He also studies why alcohol affects different people differently, i.e., how factors such as age, gender, drinking history, genetics, and stress influence how people respond to alcohol. He is interested in understanding why some people develop alcohol problems, while others may be protected. Vijay also mentors trainees from high school students to postdoctoral fellows in neuroscience and addiction. In his free time, Vijay likes to watch movies, listen to music, and try out new recipes.

Dr. Michele Rankin

Dr. Michele Rankin

Dr. Michele Rankin is a neuroscientist that studied how catfish smell and how proteins in your brain respond to the chemical dopamine – a chemical involved in reward-motivated behaviors (like substance use disorders). She is the NIDA Research Training Director and enjoys helping people find ways to support their substance use disorder research training and career development. She has two Norwegian Elkhounds that love to play in the snow. She is originally from Louisiana and loves cooking healthy Cajun cuisine (gumbo, crawfish etouffee), snow skiing, and traveling.

Dr. Kurt Rasmussen

Dr. Kurt Rasmussen

Now in our chat is Dr. Kurt Rasmussen. He leads NIDA’s team that creates new medicines to help people with addiction. Dr. Rasmussen went to high school in Rahway, NJ and college at Cornell and Princeton. When he is not trying to develop new medicines, he enjoys reading, exercising, and listening to music.

Dr. Cathrine Sasek

Dr. Cathrine Sasek

Dr. Cathrine Sasek is now participating in the Chat. Dr. Sasek recently retired from NIDA but she enjoyed working on the Chat so much, that she came back to help once again.  While at NIDA, Dr. Sasek worked on NIDA’s Science Education Program. She has always had a fascination with science, in particular the brain and how it works, and she enjoys having the opportunity to share this with teachers, parents, and kids. In retirement, Dr. Sasek is continuing to help students learn through working with students at a local school. She also enjoys, hiking, taking photographs and entering them in competitions, and playing with her two cats.

Dr. John Satterlee

Dr. John Satterlee

Do you have a question about genes or DNA? Ask Dr. John Satterlee, a scientist with a background in genetics, epigenetics, and neuroscience. He started out as a high school chemistry teacher (everybody’s “favorite” class). Since then he has studied a variety of organisms including plants, worms, flies, yeast, bacteria, ducks, rabbits, and carpenter ants. His current major scientific interest is understanding how exposure to addictive substances can lead to long term changes in brain cell function. In his spare time he likes to hike, kayak, and watch his two teenage children play on their phones.

Dr. Belinda Sims

Dr. Belinda Sims

Dr. Belinda Sims is a developmental psychologist and works in NIDA's prevention research branch. At NIDA, she works with researchers from around the country who develop and test drug abuse prevention interventions for early childhood through the preteen years, including prenatal and infancy periods. Also, her research portfolio includes studies that look at how to get successful drug abuse prevention programs picked up and implemented in real word settings and systems like schools, communities, child welfare, health care, and others. She has one child who is a senior this year.  She can’t wait for graduation day!

Shirley Simson

Shirley Simson

Shirley Simson works in NIDA’s press office, answering questions every day from reporters about drug abuse and addiction, scheduling interviews with scientists, and writing press releases to deliver messages about substance abuse through television and radio stations, newspapers, magazines and news websites. Born and raised in Maryland, Shirley has a degree in communication from the University of Michigan and struggles with who to root for during the Maryland/Michigan Big Ten games. She lives with her husband and three children in Rockville. In her spare time, Shirley reads, goes on walks in her neighborhood, and chauffeurs her three kids to their cross country meets, lacrosse tournaments, and baseball games.

Sara Smith

Sara Smith

Sara Smith is a Health Communications Specialist at the FDA Center for Tobacco Products. She manages social media for the Center to help inform as many people as possible about the dangers of using tobacco products. She’s excited to participate in Chat Day today! When she’s not working, she enjoys writing fiction and playing video and board games with her husband.

Dr. Roger Sorensen

Roger Sorensen

Please welcome Dr. Roger Sorensen to the Chat. Roger has always been fascinated by the brain, constantly wondering how it works and how it makes you become a person who is different from your sister or best friend. He was trained in neurochemistry, and at work, he spends his time thinking about how drugs of abuse change brain function and a person’s behavior. When not at work, he spends his time riding his bicycle or practicing guitar and piano. He expects that someday scientists will be able to determine how this complex organ known as the brain makes us think, feel, and be who we are.

Dr. Jack Stein

Dr. Jack Stein

Dr. Jack Stein is answering questions today. He is the head of our office of Science Policy and Communications, and is an expert in how communities come together to solve health problems like addiction. Before NIDA, he worked on drug abuse issues in the Executive Office of the President where he met former President Obama as well as the former first dog, Bo! He lives in Washington, DC and has performed in many local theatre productions.

Dr. Geetha Subramaniam

Dr. Geetha Subramaniam

Dr. Geetha Subramaniam is the deputy director of the Center for Clinical Trials Network, a division within NIDA. She and her colleagues collaborate with scientists across the US to conduct clinical trials to assess the value of a number of treatments for substance use disorders. She is trained as a child/adolescent psychiatrist and an addiction psychiatrist and has conducted research studying treatments for teens and young adults who have abused marijuana and prescription opioids, among other substances. She also works with youth with substance abuse and mental health issues and their families in private practice. Fun things she likes to do when she is not working are playing with her labradoodle, going on walks/hikes, watching movies and visiting Washington DC’s museums!

Dr. Dave Thomas

Dr. Dave Thomas

Dr. Dave Thomas has joined the chat. He is an expert on pain and analgesia, where he promotes the development of new pain treatments that have little potential to produce addiction. This is especially important for teens, since sometimes they take prescription pain killers without a doctor’s prescription. He also loves “cool science.” For example, he has promoted the use of virtual reality as a treatment and research tool. Outside of work, Dave is a pastel painter, and has shown his work at galleries in the Washington-Baltimore area. Dave loves to play Frisbee Golf at his cabin in the woods of Pennsylvania. His dogs, Rex and Markie-Mark, love to tag along with Dave in the woods.

Dr. Kevin Walton

Dr. Kevin Walton

Whether it is experimenting with human cells in a petri dish, investigating animal behavior, or studying the effectiveness of potential medicines in people, Dr. Kevin Walton has worked in all these areas over his career as a scientist. We are lucky he is now online! His current focus is on treatments to help those who want to quit smoking. He is also working on efforts to understand more about the risks and benefits of electronic cigarettes. When not at NIDA, Kevin spends his time with his family, losing at ping pong but still able to win a pinball game here and there.

Dr. Susan R.B. Weiss

Dr. Susan R.B. Weiss

Dr. Susan R.B. Weiss is the Director, Division of Extramural Research, at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). She provides scientific guidance and oversight to a diverse staff who are responsible for program planning and development, scientific review, grants management, research training and career development. She led the NIH effort to launch a major research project known as Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study—the largest long term study of brain maturation and other health outcomes in youth. In her spare time, she does Yoga and reads novels about exotic persons and places--including science fiction.

Dr. Aaron White

Dr. Aaron White

Dr. Aaron White is now here to answer your questions about alcohol. Aaron is a psychologist with our sister Institute, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. His expertise is in how alcohol affects the brain. He knows a lot about how the brain changes during the teenage years and how alcohol and other drugs affect the teen brain. He is very interested in something called ‘alcohol blackouts,’ where people, including teenagers, who drink too much can’t remember what they did while they were drinking. His favorite things about his job are that he gets to be on the cutting edge of science, help teenagers make healthy choices about alcohol and, hopefully, keep their brains safe.

Dr. Tisha Wiley

Dr. Tisha Wiley

Dr. Tisha Wiley is a scientist interested in how individuals and families are both resilient and vulnerable to difficult experiences, and how society responds to meet the needs of people in challenging situations. At NIDA, she studies how the juvenile and criminal justice systems respond to addiction. Tisha grew up in rural Missouri in a town of fewer than 40 people and was the first in her family to go to college. More people lived in her Freshman hall than in her hometown, though thankfully, she has since learned to navigate large cities. In her free time, Tisha enjoys cooking, traveling, and assorted creative projects. She also enjoys spending time with her partner, teenage stepdaughter, two cats, and two dogs.

Mitch Zeller, J.D.

Mitch Zeller

Mitch Zeller, J.D., is Director of the FDA Center for Tobacco Products (CTP). Mr. Zeller’s tobacco experience spans more than 30 years. As Director at the Center for Tobacco Products, he oversees the center’s efforts to protect Americans from tobacco-related death and disease by regulating the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of them. A large part of his work involves educating the public, especially young people, about the danger tobacco products pose to themselves and others. Mr. Zeller is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the American University Washington College of Law. He is an avid baseball fan (especially the Yankees!) and has been known to play for the CTP softball team. He also enjoys seeing shows at the theater, especially with his wife and two daughters.