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The NIAAA is the lead agency for U.S. research on the causes, consequences, prevention and treatment of alcohol use disorder and alcohol-related problems.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

Laboratory of Behavioral and Genomic Neuroscience

Contact Information

  • Lab: +1 301 402 3519
  • Fax: +1 301 480 1952

Overview of the Lab

The overarching mission of the lab is to understand the neural basis of cognitive and emotional regulation and how these critical mental processes are mediated by discrete neural circuits and moderated in function by genetic variation and environmental insults, including stress and alcohol.

Behavioral assays: Compulsive-like behavior, Risky decision-makeing, Reward learning, Cognitive flexibility, and Emotional flexibility

Research Projects

The mission of the Laboratory of Behavioral and Genomic Neuroscience is to contribute to a deeper understanding of the causes of alcoholism and comorbid neuropsychiatric conditions, notably stressor, trauma and anxiety disorders. Our goal is to elucidate the neural basis of these devastating diseases and help identify new directions for their prevention and effective treatment. To this end, we integrate behavioral measures with state-of-the-art methods for monitoring and manipulating neural functions in order to examine how environmental insults shape brain circuits to modify behavior.

Selected Publications

Silverstein SE, O'Sullivan R, Bukalo O, Pati D, Schaffer JA, Limoges A, Zsembik L, Yoshida T, O'Malley JJ, Paletzki RF, Lieberman AG, Nonaka M, Deisseroth K, Gerfen CR, Penzo MA, Kash TL, Holmes A (2024). A distinct cortical code for socially learned threat. Nature. 2024 Feb;626(8001):1066-1072 PMID: 38326610

Gunduz-Cinar O, Castillo LI, Xia M, Leer E, Brockway ET, Pollack GA, Bukalo O, Limoges A, Oreizi-Esfahani S, Kondev V, Báldi R, Dong A, Harvey-White J, Cinar R, Kunos G, Li Y, Zweifel LS, Patel S, Holmes A (2023). A cortico-amygdala circuit substrate for endocannabinoid modulation of fear extinction. Neuron 111:3053-3067.

Hagihara KM, Bukalo O, Zeller M, Aksoy-Aksel A, Karalis N, Limoges A, Rigg T, Campbell T, Mendez A, Weinholtz C, Mahn M, Zweifel LS, Palmiter RD, Ehrlich I, Lüthi A, Holmes A (2021). Intercalated amygdala clusters orchestrate a switch in fear state. Nature 594:403-407.

Bukalo O, Pinard CR, Silverstein S, Brehm C, Hartley ND, Whittle N, Colacicco G, Busch E, Patel S, Singewald N, Holmes A (2015). Prefrontal inputs to the amygdala instruct fear extinction memory formation. Science Advances 1:e1500251.

Halladay LR, Kocharian A, Piantadosi PT, Authement M, Lieberman AG, Coden K, Spitz NA, Glover L, Costa VD, Alvarez V, Holmes A (2020). Prefrontal regulation of punished ethanol self-administration. Biological Psychiatry 87:967-968.

Sengupta A, Holmes A (2019). A discrete dorsal raphe to basal amygdala 5-HT circuit calibrates aversive memory. Neuron 103:489-505.

Other Lab Resources

Section Alumni

Maya Xia, B.A., currently at Columbia University, MD/PhD student

Elise Van Leer, B.S., currently at Emory University, MD student

Sarah Perry, B.S., currently at University of Maryland, PhD student

Rodrigo Sandon Veliz, B.S., currently at University of Maryland, B.S. student

Sydney Zimmerman, B.S.

Victoria Offenberg, B.S., currently a Research Data Specialist at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA

Shana Silverstein, Ph.D., currently postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)

Leo Zsembik, BS, currently at University of California San Francisco, graduate student

Laura Castillo, BA, currently at University of Maryland, graduate student

Kendall Coden, currently at Stanford University Masters in Laboratory Animal Sciences

Hyesun Choi, BS, currently at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, MD Student

Adriana Mendez, BS, Mount Sinai PhD Program in Neuroscience

Chase Weinholtz, BA, Washington University PhD Program in Neuroscience 

Sarvar Oreizi-Esfahani, BS, currently at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, MD Student

Sawyer Smith, BS, Brown University PhD Program in Pathobiology 

Tiffany Campbell, BA, DePaul University Masters in Human Computer Interaction

Tanner Rigg, BA, currently teaching English in Thailand with CIEE

Nathen Spitz, BA, currently at Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, MD Student

Mark Yde, BA, currently working at STEMCELL Technologies

Kerry McFadden, BA, currently at University College Dublin, Ireland, MA in History of Medicine Student

Mio Nonaka, PhD, currently at Department of Molecular Genetics, Weizmann Institutes of Science, Rehovot, Israel

Takayuki Yoshida, PhD, currently Assistant Professor, Department of Neuropharmacology, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan

Will Taylor, BA, currently at the University of Southern California Neuroscience Graduate Program, PhD Student

Gabrielle Pollack, BA, currently at Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, Hempstead, NY, MD Student

Abby Lieberman, BA, currently at The University of Pennsylvania, graduate student

Ayesha Sengupta, PhD, currently postdoctoral fellow at National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

Lucas Glover, PhD, currently postdoctoral fellow at John Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, in Michaela Gallagher's group

Lindsay HalladayPhD, currently Assistant Professor of Psychology, Santa Clara University,

Emma BrockwayBA, currently at the University of Texas at Austin, PhD student in Graduate School in Neuroscience

Abby PostleBS, currently at the University of Maryland School of Medicine MD/PhD student

Adrina Kocharian, BS, currently at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine, MD/PhD student

Aaron LimogesBS, currently at the Columbia University in the city of New York, PhD student

Elizabeth Kirby, currently working at the FDA

Anna Lipkin,BS, currently at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) PhD student

Courtney Pinard, PhD,  Manager of Educational and Career Development Programs, American Association of Immunologists

Anna Radke, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Miami University

Hadley Bergstrom, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Vassar College
LabTV Interview with Hadley Bergstrom

Katie Kaugars, BS, currently at Albert Einstein College of Medicine MD/PhD student LabTV Interview with Katie Kaugars

Nick Jury, PhD,  currently Science Policy Analyst in the Office of Science Policy, Engagement, Education, and Communications at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute within the National Institutes of Health
LabTV Interview with Nick Jury

Maxine Reger, PhD

Erica Busch, MS

Erica Sagalyn, MA, currently at The Bridge, New York City, NY

Charles Pickens, PhD, currently tenured faculty, Department of Psychology, Kansas State University

Shaun Flynn, MD, currently resident at Brown University

Munisa Bachu, BA

Marguerite Camp, BS, currently Senior Associate in the Public Sector Practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Washington DC

SophieMasneuf, PhD, currently post-doctoral fellow, Zurich University

Giovanni Colacicco, MD, PhD, currently Senior Scientist and Senior Lecturer, Institute of Anatomy, University of Zurich

Rachel Daut, PhD, currently postdoc at University of Colorado at Boulder

Carly Kiselycznyk, PhD, currently at Yale University

Paul Fitzgerald, PhD, currently postdoctoral fellow at University of Michigan

Carolyn Graybeal, PhD, currently a fellow at the National Academy of Sciences

Jonathan Brigman, PhD, currently Associate Professor & Regents’ Lecturer, Department of Neurosciences, University of New Mexico,

Lauren DePoy, PhD, currently postdoc at University of Pittsburgh

Kathryn MacPherson, BS, currently at Emory University

Daniel Fisher, BS, currently at Northwestern University

Aaron Plitt, BS, currently at University of Texas Southwestern

Alicia Izquierdo, PhD, currently Professor, Department of Psychology, Brain Research Institute, Neuroscience IDP, University of California, Los Angeles,

Janel Boyce-Rustay, PhD, currently Senior Director, Regulatory Program Management at Genentech, San Francisco

Rose-Marie Karlsson, PhD, currently at NIMH

Rachel Millstein, PhD, currently Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA

Lisa Wiedholz, BA, currently at Abbott Laboratories

Rebecca Yang, BA, currently at The Mayo Clinic Rochester

Kathryn Hefner, PhD , currently Research Assistant Professor at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD

Poonam Mathur, DO, MPH, currently Assistant Professor, University of Maryland School of Medicine

Benjamin Palachick, MD, currently surgical critical care fellow at Cooper University Healthcare in Camden, NJ

Yi-Chyan Chen, MD, PhD, currently Director, Department of Psychiatry, Buddhist Tzu Chi General Hospital, Hualian, Taiwan

Maxine Norcross, BS, currently at NIMH

Tara Wright, BS, currently at University of North Carolina

Michael Feyder, PhD, currently at Brain Modulation Lab, Department of Neurosurgery, University of Pittsburgh, PA

Jessica Ihne Reed, PhD, currently postdoc at NIMH

Susanna Weber, BS, currently at Gottingen University

Lauren Lederle, MD, currently at San Fransisco VA Medical Center

Benita Hurd, MD, currently regional anethesia fellow at Emory University 


Dr. Timothy J. Bussey and Dr. Lisa M. Saksida, Robarts Research Institute, Western University; Weblink

Dr. Tom Kash, University of North Carolina; Weblink

Dr. David Lovinger, Dr. Veronica Alvarez, Laboratory for Integrative Neuroscience, NIAAA; Weblink

Dr. Sachin Patel, Vanderbilt University Medical Center; Weblink

Dr. Mario Penzo, Unit on the Neurobiology of Affective Memory, NIMH; Weblink

Dr. Danny Winder, Department of Pharmacology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center; Weblink

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