Upcoming VCBH Events

Wednesday, April 10: VCBH Lecture Series featuring, Elizabeth Evans, PhD
Time & Location: 12:00pm, UVM Davis Auditorium
Title: Addressing Opioid Use Disorders Over the Life Course Among Criminally Involved Adults

Wednesday, May 15: VCBH Lecture Series featuring, Tim Lash, DSc, MPH
Time & Location: 12:00pm, UVM Davis Auditorium
Title: Significance Testing is the Reason that Scientific Results have Poor Reproducibility

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. 


VCBH Director, Stephen Higgins, PhD, gave the inaugural lecture at the new University of Kansas Cofrin Logan Center for Addiction Research and Treatment. This Center, newly established in 2018, is directed and co-directed by Richard Yi, PhD, and Tera Fazzino, PhD, both of whom are post and predoctoral graduates of our T32 training program.

Tyler Nighbor, VCBH T32 Postdoc, publishes paper titled, "Examining Interrelationships Between the Cigarette Purchase Task and Delay Discounting" in the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior.

Maria Parker, Ph.D., VCBH TCORS Postdoc, leads a paper with other VCBH faculty and collaborators titled, "Tobacco Product Harm Perceptions and New Use". This paper is the first look at the association between tobacco harm perceptions among youth, and subsequent new use across multiple non-cigarette products.

The VCBH Center grant renewals make local headlines in the Vermont Rutland Herald and the Times-Argus, discussing the goals of the grants to better understand how reduce risky health behavior among at-risk populations

Stacey Sigmon, Ph.D. receives promotion to Tenured Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Psychological Sciences at the University of Vermont!

VCBH Postdoc, Kelly Peck, Ph.D. gives an invited educational talk at Fairfield University, titled "The Ongoing Opioid Epidemic: Barriers to Treatment, Novel Treatment Approaches, and Vulnerable Populations".

VCBH Research News

Kurti Receives Prestigious APA Div 28 Award

Kurti_Allison (1)Allison Kurti, Ph.D., has received the 2019 American Psychological Association (APA) Div 28 Young Psychopharmacologist Award! This award honors a young scientist doing original, meritorious work in psychopharmacology and encourages excellence in research at the interface between the disciplines of pharmacology and psychology. Dr. Kurti was nominated for the award by VCBH Director, Stephen Higgins, PhD.

Dr. Kurti is excited and honored to receive this award, and is deeply appreciative of the opportunities and support that her mentors, colleagues, and peers have provided her, which she feels have put her in the position to receive this honor.

Sigmon Elected 2020-2021 CPDD President  Sigmon headshot crop[1]

Stacey Sigmon, PhD, has been elected as the 2020-2021 College of Problems on Drug Dependence (CPDD) President.  Dr. Sigmon is an Associate Professor with Tenure at the University of Vermont with the VCBH.  CPDD is the oldest and largest organization in the US dedicated to advancing a scientific approach to substance use and addictive disorders.  CPDD’s mission is to provide a national and international forum for scientists of diverse backgrounds to advance the understanding of molecular-neurobiological aspects of addictive disorders and, by the application of new scientific knowledge, to improve and develop treatments utilizing novel behavioral and pharmacological therapies.  Dr. Sigmon is a also current member of the CPDD Board of Directors and was the 2016 President for the American Psychological Association's Division on Psychopharmacology and Substance Use.  Congratulations, Dr. Sigmon!

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 Higgins PicBehavior 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!

VCBH/UVM Faculty & UVMMC Physicians Awarded SAMHSA Grant to Expand Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

University of Vermont (UVM) Faculty, Richard Rawson PhD, and Scott Mackey, PhD, along with University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMMC) Psychiatrist, Sanchit Maruti, MD, and Emergency Medicine Physician, Daniel Wolfson, MD, have been awarded a 3-year grant aimed at expanding medication assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder (OUD) in emergency departments (ED's) around the state.

The current practice of providing ED patients with OUD with a referral to treatment is often a missed opportunity to engage patients in MAT. Funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), this grant will allow three Vermont medical centers the opportunity to establish a new intervention to initiate treatment for those presenting with OUD at the ED, then transfer these patients to a community treatment center.

Principal Investigators, Drs. Mackey, Maruti, and Wolfson, will lead the study and Dr. Rawson will act as the evaluator to determine the effectiveness of initiating treatment in this setting.

Screen Shot 2018-11-05 at 3.25.59 PMPublished: Preventive Medicine Fifth Special Issue, December 2018

The December 2018 Special Issue of Preventive Medicine (PM) is the fifth in a series that focuses on behavior change, health, and health disparities. Contributors to these Special Issues are selected from participants in the 2017 VCBH 5th Annual Conference on Tobacco Regulatory Science.

The topics covered in this Special Issue are specific to tobacco regulatory science, a field which assures that the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Center of Tobacco Products (CTP) has the multidisciplinary scientific input necessary to conduct evidence-based regulation. More specifically, this issue focuses on a set of three current topics in tobacco regulatory science:

1) Examining current research examining the effects of a potential national policy that would reduce the nicotine levels in cigarettes to minimally addictive levels.

2) Increasing scientific understanding on the risk and patterns of cigarette smoking and other tobacco use in vulnerable populations.

3) Potential role of e-cigarettes and other non-combusted sources of nicotine as less harmful substitutes for combusted products for those unwilling or unable to quite nicotine use.

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.

Image of YIR cover

Click here to read the 2017-2018 VCBH Year in Review.