Upcoming VCBH Events

Wednesday, September 19: VCBH Lecture Series featuring, David Holtgrave, Ph.D.
Time & Location: 12:00pm, UVM Davis Auditorium
Title: History and Status of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the US: Applications of Policy Modeling and Implementation Science

Thurs-Friday, October 11 & 12: VCBH Annual National Conference
Keynote Speaker: Sharon Walsh, Ph.D.

Wednesday, November 14: VCBH Lecture Series featuring, Sherry Grace, Ph.D.
Time & Location: 12:00pm, UVM Davis Auditorium
Title: Strategies to Increase Utilization of Cardiac Rehabilitation

Wednesday, December 19: VCBH Lecture Series featuring, Mary Brunette, M.D.
Time & Location: 12:00pm, UVM Davis Auditorium
Topic: Using technology to promote improve smoking cessation outcomes among those with severe mental illnesses

VCBH NIH Research Fellowship Opportunities

We are currently recruiting for one NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship and multiple NIH Predoctoral Fellowships.

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


Irene Pericot-Valverde, Ph.D., received the 2018 NIDA Women & Sex/Gender Differences Junior Investigator Travel Award. Dr. Pericot-Valverde is completing her second year as a VCBH TCORS Postdoctoral fellow.

TCORS postdoc Maria Parker, Ph.D., publishes paper, "Associations Between Opioid and Nicotine Dependence in Nationally Representative Samples of United States Adult Daily Smokers", in Drug & Alcohol Dependence. This paper was co-authored by TCORS predoc, Joanna Streck and their mentor, Stacey Sigmon, Ph.D.

TCORS paper, "Multimodal Neuroimaging Differences in Nicotine Abstinent vs. Satiated Smokers", led by Bader Chaarani, PhD and Philip Spechler, MS, has been accepted for publication in Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

Allison Kurti, Ph.D., has received acceptance in Nicotine & Tobacco Research for her paper on tobacco product use among US women of reproductive age.

John Hughes, M.D., weighs in on the implications of possible marijuana legalization in Vermont. Read the full story, here.

VCBH Research News

Vermont Center on Behavior and Health Receives $30+ Million in Grant Renewals

University of Vermont (UVM) Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Psychological Science, and Director of the Vermont Center on Behavior and Health (VCBH), Stephen T. Higgins, Ph.D., has announced the successful renewal of two multi-million dollar Center grants.

The Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) award from the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences, and the Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (TCORS) award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and U.S. Federal and Drug Administration (FDA) will bring in over $30 million in federal funding to support another five years of research on the intersection of behavior and health, replicating what had been an unprecedented accomplishment at UVM when these two centers were first funded in September, 2013. 

The COBRE will continue its focus on increasing understanding of the mechanisms underpinning vulnerability to unhealthy behavior patterns and developing effective behavior-change interventions, with the end goal of establishing a productive, stand alone Center of research excellence. The TCORS will focus on a major policy under consideration by FDA's Center for Tobacco Products that would reduce the nicotine content of cigarettes below an addiction threshold.

Click here for the full press release on the COBRE and TCORS Awards!

GaalemasmallGaalema Receives NIH Award Examining Interventions to Increase Cardiac Rehabilitation Participation Among Low-SES Patients

Diann Gaalema, Ph.D., has received funding for an NIH-sponsored R61 award that will examine the efficacy of using early case management and financial incentives for increasing cardiac rehabilitation (CR) participation among lower socioeconomic status (SES) patients. Participation in outpatient CR has shown to decrease morbidity and mortality for patients hospitalized with for various heart conditions. However, only 10-35% of patients for whom CR is recommended, choose to participate. Low-SES is a strong indicator of non-CR participation, therefore there is a strong need to increase CR participation within this population. Both case management and financial incentives are proven effective in altering behaviors and promoting adherence to health-related regimens.

Dr. Gaalema is a graduate of the VCBH Project Director mentoring program in which she successfully completed a randomized clinical trial studying the effects of financial incentives to increase CR participation among disadvantaged populations. Her new award will allow her to continue her research in this field to increase awareness about the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of such approaches that have the potential to substantially increase CR participation and improve health outcomes among lower-SES cardiac patients. 

Heil Receives NIDA Award for Study on Pregnant Women with Opioid Use Disorder  Sarah Heil

Sarah Heil, Ph.D., is now the Co-Principal Investigator of a $3.3 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to conduct a multi-site treatment trial of pregnant women with opioid use disorder. Dr. Heil and colleagues from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Johns Hopkins University, and Virginia Commonwealth University, will compare maternal, fetal, and neonatal outcomes associated with medically-supervised withdrawal (MSW) vs. opioid agonist therapy (OAT). OAT is the recommended standard of care, but there is interesting interest in MSW during pregnancy. Mixed results from weak studies in the existing literature make it difficulty to draw clear conclusions about the relative risks and benefits of MSW and OAT during pregnancy. The results will help patients, providers, medial societies, and governments make more informed decisions about the treatment of opioid use disorder during pregnancy.

Garavan Receives T32 Award Focused on Training in the Neurobiology of Substance Abuse 

Garavan_Hugh_HVCBH Investigator, Hugh Garavan, Ph.D., has been awarded a 5-year T32 pre and post-doctoral training program, making this the second T32 training program within the VCBH. The purpose of this program is to train and pre and post-doctoral scholars in the application of complex systems approaches to the neurobiology of substance abuse. The core curriculum will incorporate: 1) the established complex systems graduate certificate at the University of Vermont; 2) course work in neurosciences, psychology and addiction, including classes focused on developing human subjects research skills; as well as 3) specialized courses designed to directly and effectively bridge the gap between the core disciplines. The overarching aim of the program is to produce researchers poised to apply state-of-the-art analytic tools to understand the neurobiology of drug abuse.

Dr. Garavan states his team is, "very excited to extend VCBH activities in this direction. Bringing complex system methodologies to bear on the rich data sets routinely collected by VCBH researchers will hopefully yield new insights into the mechanisms and processes underlying health-related behaviors."

Former UVM/VCBH Pre-doc Hired as FDA Social Scientist

Mollie Miller, PhD., former UVM/VCBH Predoctoral Trainee and UVM TCORS Postdoctoral Trainee at Brown University, was hired as a Social Miller_MollieScientist at the FDA Center for Tobacco Products. Dr. Miller previously participated in a 1-year National Academy of Medicine sponsored Tobacco Regulatory Fellowship at the FDA. Dr. Miller earned her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Experimental Psychology from the University of Vermont. Congratulations to Dr. Miller and her accomplishments!

SigmonSigmon Co-authors JAMA Psychiatry Paper on Novel Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

VCBH Faculty, Stacey Sigmon, Ph.D., and other leading opioid researchers, have published in paper in JAMA Psychiatry looking at whether weekly and monthly subcutaneous (SC) buprenorphine depot formulations are non-inferior treatments compared to a daily sublingual (SL) combination of buprenorphone and naloxone. Daily SL buprenorphine with nalaxone has shown to effectively treat opioid use disorder but with limitations including sub-optimal medication adherence  and intravenous misuse. Researchers believe that weekly and monthly SC buprenorphine extended release formulations, may address these limitations while still proving to be effective. The randomized clinical trial of 428 participants demonstrated that long-acting buprenorphine formulations did indeed appear to be effective for the treatment of opioid use disorder.

UVM TCORS Research Presented at High-Visibility Sessions at 2018 SRNT Conference

Stephen Higgins, PhD, and other leading tobacco researchers, were invited to deliver the plenary presentation at the 2018 SRNT conference to provide supporting evidence of a proposed nicotine reduction policy. Their symposium was titled, "Reducing Nicotine Content in Cigarettes: A Discussion of the Evidence and Policy Implications". This presentation aligned with the FDA's recent announcement proposing a reduction in nicotine content in cigarettes, which has undoubtedly been influenced by research on the impact of this policy, which is the primary focus of UVM's Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (TCORS).

Allison Kurti, PhD, and Dr. Higgins co-chaired a presentation on tobacco use among reproductive-aged women titled, "Vulnerabilities to Tobacco Product Use and Strategies to Reduce Use Among Women of Reproductive Age".

Andrea Villanti, PhD, MPH, gave a plenary talk on "Developing Research to Inform Tobacco-Related Policy", as part of her 2018 Jarvik-Russell Early Career Award.

FDA Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, MD, commended all SRNT presenters stating they are "exactly the kind of people we had in mind when we envision who would contribute to the science underpinning dialogue [on nicotine reduction] and participate in the discussions we all need to have."

Cirulation logoDrs. Ades & Gaalema receive Editorial Acceptance in Top Cardiology Journal

The editorial titled, "Geographic Variations in Cardiac Rehabilitation Use: Regional Variations in Medical Care or in Patient Behaviors?", by Drs. Philip Ades and Diann Gaalema, has been accepted for publication in one of the leading cardiology journals, Circulation. The editorial describes the importance of individual patient's health oriented behaviors and socio-economiic measures as key factors explaining regional variations in cardiac rehabilitation participation. Just as there is a "stroke belt" and an "obesity belt", patient behaviors explain lower use of cardiac rehabilitation in the South and the far West. Dr. Ades explains that, "without the input of Drs. Higgins and Gaalema, this line of thinking would have never come into play. I have learned so much in my collaborations with the VCBH."

Image Credit, here.

Image of YIR cover

Click here to read the 2016-2017 VCBH Year in Review.