Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

The Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Nicotine Addiction

CIRNA

CIRNA Faculty

Robert Schnoll, Ph.D.

Robert Schnoll, Ph.D.
Associate Professor; Director, Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Nicotine Addiction

Dr. Schnoll is Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Nicotine Addiction, an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania (PENN), co-leader of the Tobacco and Environmental Carcinogenesis Program at the PENN Abramson Cancer Center, and a Senior Fellow in PENN’s Center for Public Health Initiatives, where he teaches core courses for the PENN MPH program. After receiving his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Rhode Island in 1998, Dr. Schnoll completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Cancer Prevention and Control at Fox Chase Cancer Center and remained there as a faculty member in the Division of Population Science until September, 2005, when he moved to his current position at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Schnoll’s research focuses on the study of new methods for treating nicotine dependence, the examination of novel ways to use existing treatments for nicotine dependence to improve their efficacy, and the study of methods to improve the use of smoking cessation treatments, particularly in under-served or vulnerable populations. Dr. Schnoll has conducted behavioral, physician-based, and pharmacological clinical trials for smoking cessation, and conducted tobacco control research in India and Russia. Dr. Schnoll has published close to 100 peer-reviewed papers, received 12 NIH grants, has served as a scientific advisor for the NCI and the ACS, chaired or served on close to 75 NIH study sections, and served as program chair/co-chair for 3 annual meetings of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco.


Caryn Lerman, Ph.D.

Caryn Lerman, Ph.D.
John H. Glick Professor; Vice Dean for Strategic Initiatives for Penn Medicine

Dr. Caryn Lerman is the Vice Dean for Strategic Initiatives for Penn Medicine and the John H. Glick Professor for Cancer Research in the Department of Psychiatry.  Formerly, she served as the Co-Director of the Penn Medicine Translational Neuroscience Center, Deputy Director of the Abramson Cancer Center, and Interim Chair of the Department of Psychiatry.  Dr. Lerman received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Southern California, and has particular expertise in strategic planning as well as leadership coaching.

Dr. Lerman is nationally recognized for her research in the areas of cancer prevention, nicotine addiction, and pharmacogenetics. Her work is distinguished not only by its interdisciplinary bridging, but also by its relevance to clinical practice and health policy.  Her landmark contributions to cancer prevention include the first empirical data on decision-making and outcomes of genetic testing for cancer susceptibility. This work led to an interest in the genetic underpinnings of cancer risk behaviors, leading to her pioneering work identifying genetic variants related to tobacco use and smoking cessation treatment response.  These studies culminated in the first prospective stratified pharmacogenetic trial in the field of tobacco dependence, with a considerable impact on the application of precision medicine for tobacco dependence treatment. Dr. Lerman has also created a highly novel research program that harnesses advances in cognitive neuroscience to promote cancer risk behavior change, laying the foundation for her receipt of a coveted National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator Award. Her innovative scientific program is likely to have transformative effects on current paradigms for behavioral cancer prevention.

Dr. Lerman’s research is represented in more than 365 peer-reviewed publications, congressional testimonies and government reports, including a Surgeon General’s Report. Her publications have been cited more than 20,000 times, and she has been continuously funded by the NIH since 1990 as principal investigator of $75 million in grants. Her honors include the APA Award for Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology, the ASPO Cullen Award for Tobacco Research, and the Ochsner Award for Research Relating Tobacco and Health. She is past President of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, and has served on the National Institute on Drug Abuse Advisory Council, the National Cancer Institute Board of Scientific Advisors, and the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine.


Andrew A. Strasser, Ph.D.

Andrew A. Strasser, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Andrew Strasser is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Distinguished Research Fellow of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, and a member of the Abramson Cancer Center.  He is Director of the Biobehavioral Smoking Laboratory in the CIRNA.  After completing his doctorate in Biobehavioral Health at Penn State University, Dr. Strasser completed a post-doctoral fellowship at UPENN prior to joining the faculty in 2005.  Dr. Strasser’s tobacco regulatory research program examines the impact of advertising, marketing and labeling on risk perceptions and tobacco product use, as well as applying objective measures of use to better understand exposure.   He conducts research on a variety of tobacco products, including low nicotine content cigarettes, little cigars, and electronic cigarettes, and on product features such as menthol and filter ventilation.  He has published over 60 peer-reviewed publications, with emphasis on using smoking topography to understand smoking behaviors, and eye tracking to examine advertising and warning label effectiveness.  Dr. Strasser has been project leader on 9 NIH/FDA funded projects.  He is currently an Associate Editor of Nicotine and Tobacco Research and has routinely been invited to review for NIH and other funding agencies. 


Janet Audrain-McGovern, Ph.D.

Janet Audrain-McGovern, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Dr. Audrain-McGovern is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania (UPENN), a member of the Abramson Cancer Center, and a Senior Fellow in the Leonard Davis Institute for Health Economics, the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics, and the Center for Public Health Research at UPENN. She received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Memphis, completed her pre-doctoral clinical Internship at Brown University, and spent the first eight years of her academic career as a faculty member in the Departments of Psychiatry and Oncology at Georgetown University Medical Center.  Dr. Audrain-McGovern joined the faculty at UPENN in 2001, where she continued her adolescent and young adult smoking research.  Informed by epidemiology, behavioral pharmacology, behavioral economics and biological sciences, Dr. Audrain-McGovern’s research seeks to identify novel predictors of smoking progression and persistence in order to inform more efficacious smoking prevention and cessation interventions for adolescents and young adults. For example, her research has documented the heterogeneity in adolescent smoking acquisition, the contribution of specific genetic factors to adolescent smoking uptake, the identification of protective and risk enhancing relationships for smoking escalation, and the use of conventional cigarettes with other tobacco products. Recent extensions of this research program include investigations of the relationship between e-cigarette and combusted cigarette use among adolescents and the role of flavoring in e-cigarette use among young adults.  Dr. Audrain-McGovern’s research has been continuously funded by the NIH and has resulted in almost 120 peer-reviewed publications.  She has served as an Associate Editor for Nicotine & Tobacco Research, a program chair for the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, and has served on several NIH study sections.


Rebecca Ashare, Ph.D.

Rebecca Ashare, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Dr. Ashare is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, and a member of the Abramson Cancer Center and the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT) at the University of Pennsylvania (UPENN). She received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the State University of New York at Buffalo where she worked on clinical trials for smoking cessation and human behavioral pharmacology studies. After completing her predoctoral clinical fellowship at the Yale University School of Medicine Division of Substance Abuse, she joined CIRNA as a postdoctoral fellow and was appointed to faculty in 2012. At CIRNA, she continued her research on identifying novel therapeutic targets that may represent risk factors for smoking relapse and evaluating novel treatments to improve abstinence rates. Her research utilizes tools from the fields of neuropharmacology and cognitive neuroscience to understand the mechanisms of efficacy of nicotine dependence treatments. She has also conducted research on individual differences in the effects of smoking abstinence including sex differences, smokers with mental disorders (e.g., ADHD and depression), and genetics. Dr. Ashare is the recipient of a K23 Early Career Development Award and serves as an Associate Editor for Nicotine & Tobacco Research, a Consulting Editor for Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, and as a grant reviewer for the Prevent Cancer Foundation.


James Loughead, Ph.D.

James Loughead, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Dr. Loughead joined the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Nicotine Addiction as an Associate Professor and Technical Director of the Brain Behavior Change program in 2013.  He first joined the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania (PENN) in 2006 serving as the director of fMRI studies at the Center for Neuroimaging in Psychiatry since 2006 and in 2009 was named co-director of the Center.

Dr. Loughead earned a doctorate in Clinical Neuropsychology from Drexel University in 2002 and completed a NIH sponsored neuroimaging fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania in 2006.  His initial work focused on emotional processing in healthy individuals and those diagnosed with schizophrenia, focusing on the relationship between the identification of emotions and the brain response in individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia.  This work was extended to probe the role of emotion in facial memory and the functional relationship among nodes in the emotion identification network.

His work in neuroimaging of emotional and cognitive function led to a very productive collaboration with Dr. Caryn Lerman.  Intially, his contribution was limited to the technical aspects of fMRI design, however he soon established his own research programs related to nicotine dependence examining the neural and behavioral aspects of abstinence-induced cognitive deficits and relating these to effective medications, and predictive models of treatment outcomes. 


Julie A. Blendy, Ph.D.

Julie A. Blendy, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Dr. Blendy is a Professor in the Department of Systems Pharmacology, and a member of the Center for Neurobiology of Behavior and the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics. Dr. Blendy is Chair of the Pharmacology Graduate Group and Director  of the  NIGMS Training Program in Pharmacology. Dr. Blendy received her BS and MS degrees in Zoology from the University of Maryland, College Park and her Ph.D. in pharmacology from Georgetown University. She received an NRSA post-doctoral fellowship to train in molecular biology at Johns Hopkins University and later completed a research fellowship at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, Germany where she developed several lines of knock-out and transgenic mice. Dr. Blendy joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania in 1997 where she has melded her training in mouse genetics, molecular biology and pharmacology with her interest in neuropsychiatric disorders to develop a research program focused on investigating mechanisms underlying drug addiction. In particular, she has focused on the interaction of nicotine and opioid systems using a variety of mouse models, molecular characterizations and behavioral phenotyping. In addition, she has a strong interest in stress neurobiology and its impact on drug addiction. Dr. Blendy won the 2009 Graduate Group in Pharmacological Sciences Distinguished Faculty Award. Her research is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). She currently serves as a member of the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse (NACDA)  and is on the Editorial Board of Molecular Pharmacology.