Vermont Center on Behavior & Health
Upcoming VCBH Events

**CANCELLED** Wednesday, March 18: VCBH Lecture Series featuring, Quinn Pack, MD
Time & Location: 12:00pm, UVM Davis Auditorium
Title: When willpower after a heart attack isn’t enough: Helping smokers quit with medications, cardiac rehab, and technology.

Click here to read the 2018-2019 VCBH Year in Review.

2017-2018 VCBH Year in Review

VCBH Career Opportunities


We are currently hiring a Project Manager, Research Analyst, Research Project Assistant and Clinical Project Manager.

Please visit our Career Opportunities page to learn more about these positions and to review the application instructions


UVM TCORS Research Graduate Assistant Roxanne Harfmann, BA was recently a recipient of the 2020 SRNT New Investigator Best Abstract Award for her abstract entitled, "Addiction Potential of Cigarettes with Reduced Nicotine Content in Pregnant Women".  

UVM TCORS team is well represented in the latest CASEL special issue on Nicotine Standards in Nicotine & Tobacco Research!

Bader Chaarani, PhD, received the ABCD Outstanding Investigator Award at the 2019 ABCD annual meeting.

Drs. Stacey Sigmon and Allison Kurti present at the 2019 New England Rural Health Conference. Dr. Sigmon's presentation focused on the "Innovative Approaches to Expanding Opioid Addiction Treatment in Rural Communities", and Dr. Kurti presented on "Leveraging Science, Technology, and Creativity to Improve Rural Health".

Elias Klemperer, PhD, receives the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine Dean's Excellence in Research Award. Dr. Klemperer was awarded the best postdoctoral research presentation titled, "Who remits from opioid use disorder without treatment? Findings from a nationally representative US Survey?"

Stacey Sigmon, PhD, presents a poster at the 2019 Lisbon Addictions Conference in Lisbon, Portugal. Dr. Sigmon's poster titled, "Innovative treatment for opioid use disorder", outlined the findings of her novel Interim Buprenorphine Treatment (IBT) to mitigate risks during treatment delays for opioid-dependent individuals using technology-aided devices to deliver pharmacotherapy.

UVMMC Cardiologist and VCBH Pilot Project Director, Sherrie Khadanga, MD, was awarded "Young Investigator of the Year" at the annual meeting of the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) held in Portland, OR. The title of her study was, "Optimizing the Exercise Training Response in Women in Cardiac Rehabilitation."

VCBH Research News

VCBH Fellow Selected for the 2020 American Psychological Association Division 28 Outstanding Dissertation Award 

Eli Div 28 Award Elias Klemperer, PhD was selected as a co-winner of the 2020 Outstanding Dissertation Award by the American Psychological Association’s Division 28. Dr. Klemperer joins Allison Kurti, PhD and Kelly Dunn, PhD as the third trainee from the University of Vermont to win Division 28’s Outstanding Dissertation award. This award honors the best doctoral dissertations in psychopharmacology and substance abuse, and acknowledges the exceptional quality of Dr. Klemperer’s doctoral dissertation: A randomized trial to compare switching to very low nicotine content cigarettes versus reducing cigarettes per day. Dr. Klemperer completed his dissertation as a pre-doctoral trainee at the VCBH under the mentorship of John Hughes, MD. After completing his clinical internship at Yale University, Dr. Klemperer returned to the VCBH and is currently a postdoctoral fellow under the mentorship of Andrea Villanti, PhD, MPH and Richard Rawson, PhD. Findings from his dissertation were recently published in Addiction and Nicotine & Tobacco Research

Screen Shot 2019-12-19 at 12.07.46 PMPreventive Medicine Sixth Special Issue, November 2019

The November 2019 Special Issue of Preventive Medicine is the sixth in a series that focuses on behavior change, health, health disparities. Select researchers that participated in the 2018 Vermont Center on Behavior and Health 6th Annual Conference were invited to contribute to the Special Issue based on their exemplary scholarship and research on opioids, tobacco, and treatment adherence. VCBH Director, Dr. Stephen Higgins, organized the selection of papers as well as acted as the guest editor.

Considerable attention is given to the ongoing U.S. opioid epidemic and the critical need to develop clinical infrastructure to meet the growing demand for opioid-related clinical services. Selected papers also address tobacco use and adherence to medical regimens.

VCBH Faculty Selected Among Thousands to Present Research on Children's Brain Function

Bader Chaarani, PhD, was selected to present at the 2019 Organization for Human Brain Mapping international meeting in Rome, Italy. Among thousands of abstract submissions, Dr. Chaarani's abstract titled, "Relationship between Video Gaming and Brain Function in a Large Sample of Children" was 1 of 100 selected for an oral presentation. Dr. Chaarani was a VCBH TCORS postdoctoral fellow under the mentorship of Dr. Hugh Garavan. He is now an Assistant Professor in the department of Psychiatry at UVM conducting research on neuro-biological and behavioral risk factors underlying substance use and psychiatric diseases.

NIDA Grant Award Prepare VCBH Researchers for HEALthy Brain and Child Development Study

Drs. Hugh Garavan, Sarah Heil, and Alexi Potter have been awarded a Phase I grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse as part of preparations for the HEALthy Brain and Child Development Study.  The first few years of life are a period of exponential brain growth and development and the effects of early exposure to opioids on infant and child development are unknown.  To address this knowledge gap, the HEALthy Brain and Child Development Study aims to better understand typical brain development, beginning in the prenatal period and extending through early childhood. As part of the Phase I grant, the UVM researchers, along with collaborators at New York University School of Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University, and University of Pittsburgh, will conduct feasibility studies to assess the ability to recruit pregnant women, newborns and toddlers to participate in research; figure out barriers to participation; and establish best practices for retention.  This work will lay the foundation for the Phase II study that will establish a large cohort of pregnant women from regions of the country significantly affected by the opioid crisis and follow them and their children for at least 10 years.


VCBH Hosts 7th Annual Conference to Discuss Tobacco Regulatory Science & Control

The Vermont Center on Behavior and Health hosted its 7th annual national conference, October 10-11, in Burlington, Vermont. The topic of this year's conference was complementary contributions of tobacco regulatory science and tobacco control to protecting the public health. Renowned researchers shared their expertise on the goals of both fields, advances and challenges of reducing tobacco use in vulnerable populations, tobacco use in populations with medical co-morbidities, and issues regarding e-cigarettes and non-combusted nicotine delivery systems. Keynote speaker, Dorothy Hatsukami, PhD, gave an excellent presentation discussing the role of tobacco harm reduction in tobacco control that paved the way for an outstanding line-up of speakers and discussion.

For more information on this conference and to few the recorded talks, please visit our conference webpage!

Sigmon Awarded HRSA Center Grant to Reduce Impact of Opioid Epidemic in Rural Communities Stacey Sigmon headshot

Stacey Sigmon, PhD, has been awarded a $6.7 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) to establish the University of Vermont Center on Rural Addiction. This center will aim reduce impact of the opioid epidemic, specifically in rural communities as there is a critical need to leverage evidence-based tools to expand opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment capacity and reduce opioid-related morbidity and mortality in rural communities, which have been disproportionately impacted. The Center will work to identify, translate, disseminate and implement science-based practices to address the rural OUD epidemic, as well as future substance use disorder epidemics as they emerge. 

Sigmon and colleagues will bring a science-based approach to addressing OUD in rural communities through dissemination of best practices, enhanced and integrated clinical care services, development and evaluation, epidemiological surveillance, and rural addiction prevention. The collaborating partners include the University of Vermont, University of Vermont Medical Center, University of New Hampshire, and University of Southern Maine. Through close collaboration with partners in each state, a common “menu” of technological-based tools, and a comprehensive surveillance and evaluation infrastructure, we will aim to support expansion of evidence-supported OUD treatment capacity in rural communities.

Read two press releases, here and here.