- About the Center
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- Addiction Genetics and Pharmacogenetics Division
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- Clinical Trials Network
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- Clinical Trial Participation
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Click names to open up staff bios.
Elliott Berkowitz Sturgis
Elliott is a research technician in the Brain Behavior Vulnerabilities Lab at the Center for Studies of Addiction. He works on several studies exploring brain-behavior markers with fMRI scans involved with cocaine use disorder, eating disorders, and mindfulness. Elliott received his B.S. in Psychology at Drexel University and was a research coordinator at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, working on substance use disorder, trauma and insomnia studies. He is a part-time graduate student at Penn's Social Work program, has delivered CBT for cocaine, and assists with facilitating the Mindfulness Relapse Prevention aftercare group here. Elliott intends to pursue his LCSW after school and is interested in working with veterans again.
Stefanie Darnley is a Project Manager at the Center for Studies of Addiction, in the Brain and Behavioral Vulnerabilities Lab, where she coordinates neuroimaging studies of cocaine addiction, eating disorder pathology, and mindfulness based relapse prevention. She received her B.A. in Behavioral Biology at Johns Hopkins University. She has worked in neuroimaging and behavioral-based research since undergrad, and previously worked as a residential eating disorder counselor. She is especially interested in the interface between brain and behavior, especially in correlation to addictions and criminology, and plans to attend graduate school for Forensic Clinical Psychology with a concentration in neuroscience and brain-based vulnerabilities.
Laurie Downing, NP
Laurie Downing is an Adult and Gerontological Nurse Practitioner with The Center for the Studies of Addiction. She received her BSN from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and MSN from the University of Pennsylvania. Laurie has practiced as a nurse practitioner for over 30 years in various settings including outpatient specialty care, long-term care and inpatient before coming to the CSA in 2011. Outside of work, Laurie enjoys Zumba, watching lacrosse, and spending time at the beach.
Victoria Fairchild is a Research Coordinator at the Center for Studies of Addiction. She is currently involved in fMRI studies of the effects of graphic cigarette warning labels on smoking behaviors and mood. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English and Psychology from the College of William and Mary. Some of her previous research experience includes studies in opioid dependence, HIV prevention, predictive risk behaviors of adolescents, and treatment of neurological disorders.
Tina Gonzalez is a Research Technician for the Center for Studies of Addiction under the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Studies of Addiction. She is currently involved in the TACT, Chantix Cocaine 2, Horizant, Braeburn and DANA trials at the center. Tina has a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Spanish from Bucknell University. She is interested in the implications of socioeconomic status on the accessibility of health care. In her free time, Tina enjoys cooking, reading, and participating in the arts.
Gail Kaempf, NP
Gail Kaempf is the nurse manager at the Center. Gail is a family nurse practitioner (FNP) who has been at the Center for >20 years. During this time she has worked with study participants in cocaine, alcohol, nicotine, marijuana and opioid use disorder studies. Gail received a post-Masters certificate as a FNP from the University of Delaware. She received a MSN (nursing education) and Distinguished Academic Achievement Award from Villanova University. Gail is a member of the PACNP and the local NP chapter. In her spare time she likes getting her hands dirty (gardening), cooking experiments and outdoor activities.
Alison Keenan is a Research Technician at the Center for Studies of Addiction. She works on Dr. Cheatle’s Chronic Pain and Addiction Study. Previously, she graduated from New York University with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies. She is interested in pursuing a graduate degree in positive psychology. Outside of work, she enjoys live music, photography and attempting new hobbies.
Ching Lai is Research Technician at the Center for Studies of Addiction. She is currently working on three of Dr. Kranzler’s studies, Topiramate and Ondansetron in Alcohol Use Disorder and an Opioid substudy. Ching received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with a minor in Women’s Studies at the University of Delaware. At the University of Delaware, she worked as a research assistant at the Center for Training, Evaluation, and Community Collaboration, which focused on evaluating and improving long-term outcomes for 16-25 year olds who may be at risk for psychosis or who have recently experienced their first psychotic episode in the past year. Ching is interested in pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology in the future. In her spare time, Ching enjoys traveling, reading, and watching movies.
Melanie Maron, MS
Research Project Manager
Melanie is a Research Project Manager with the Center for Studies of Addiction, in the Brain and Behavioral Vulnerabilities Lab, and is involved with neuroimaging studies focusing on nicotine addiction. Specifically, these studies aim to observe how the various environmental cues a person encounters in their daily life may affect the brain and, therefore, affect a person’s ability to quit successfully. Melanie is particularly excited for the start of a new study in which naturally cycling women who smoke will be followed over the course of several menstrual cycles to assess if their brain responses and craving to various smoking cues at various time points across their cycle could predict when a woman should attempt to quit smoking as she could be more successful in her effort. Melanie received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia and continued there to earn her Master’s in Health Psychology.
Paige is a Research Technician at the Center for Studies of Addiction. She currently works on two of Dr. Kranzler's pharmacogenetic studies, Topiramate and Ondansetron in Alcohol Use Disorder. Previously, she received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Temple University. At Temple, Paige worked as a research assistant in the Mechanisms of Affective Dysregulation lab, studying anger and self/other directed aggression among individuals with Intermittent Explosive Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. She hopes to pursue a graduate degree in clinical psychology in the future. Outside of work, Paige enjoys reading, traveling, and cooking.
Sebastian is a research coordinator for Dr. Cheatle’s genetics of opioid addiction study at the Center for Studies of Addiction and Dr. Compton’s studies on opioid use and pain in the School of Nursing. He received his B.A in Psychology and Music at Roanoke College and has previously worked at Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins University on studies investigating audition using neuroimaging, mental health and substance use in patients with HIV, and pain responses in patients with opioid use disorder. Outside of the office, Sebastian enjoys playing guitar, hiking, and cooking.
Danielle Pelosi is a Research Technician at the Center for Studies of Addiction. She is currently involved with a neuroimaging study focusing on nicotine addiction in women. Danielle received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Cognitive Neuroscience from Temple University. Outside of work, she enjoys reading, aerial yoga, and live music.
Timothy Pond, MPH
Project Manager B
Timothy Pond is a Project Manager B at the Center for Studies of Addiction. He manages all of Dr. Kranzler’s studies. Tim received his MPH at University of Connecticut Health Center and B.A. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology for the University of Connecticut. Tim started his career in Health Care in 1995 as Medical Specialist in U.S. Army and worked professionally in many patient-care settings before specializing in addictions clinical research 12 years ago. He started in clinical research as a research assistant at the University of Connecticut Health Center. Six years ago Tim moved to Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania, Center for Studies of Addiction.
Clinical Research Coordinator
Danielle Romer is a Clinical Research Coordinator at the Center for Studies of Addiction. She currently works on two Pharmacogenetic studies, TOP G and OND, for Alcohol Use Disorder. She also works part time as a counselor at Renfrew Eating Disorder Treatment Center. Danielle has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Stockton University. She also completed minors in studio art and gerontology. In her spare time, Danielle enjoys painting, reading and roller skating.
Nathaniel is a research technician at the Center for Studies of Addiction. He is working on a project with Dr. Wetherill and Dr. Franklin that investigates how hormone fluctuations during the menstrual cycle influence nicotine addictive behavior. Nate graduated from NYU with a B.A. in Psychology and Philosophy where he worked with Dr. Pascal Wallisch on music preference research. In addition to his current work with UPenn and NYU, his interests lie in moral and economic decision-making. Outside of research, Nate enjoys music, food, and exploring Philly via bicycle.
Matt Taylor is a research technician for the Childress Lab.
Leah Zindel, R.Ph, MALS
Clinical Research Coordinator
Leah is clinical coordinator for the BIBS study, a smoking cessation study in pregnant women. Leah attended Rutgers College of Pharmacy and Wesleyan University and has held positions in both retail and hospital pharmacy. At the University of Connecticut Health Center, she worked as a Drug Information specialist before establishing the Investigational Drug Service there. Leah also spent a number of years in the pharmaceutical industry, writing market forecasts for the industry publication Healthcare Forecasting. She also has extensive experience as a medical writer and editor. Working on pharmacogenetics studies appears to be a perfect match for Leah. In her spare time, she is an avid reader, passionate cook and dedicated swimmer.
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