Experience

Research

My current research focus began as a postdoctoral trainee with the use of functional MRI in awake rats to examine brain BOLD activation in response to cocaine. My past work funded by NIDA/NIH examined the neural circuitry of reward and addiction in the cocaine exposed maternal rat. The proposed experiments represent an important continuation of my research in the fields of animal imaging and psychiatric/neurologic diseases. The experiments as a postdoctoral fellow working under Craig Ferris at the University of Massachusetts Center for Comparative Neuroimaging focused on developing an fMRI model to investigate the acute and chronic effects of cocaine on the BOLD signal. We published a series of studies that showed (1) that acute cocaine increases BOLD signal intensity in a manner similar to traditional ex vivo metabolic mapping techniques such as 2DG autoradiography, (2) acute cocaine also increases oxygen consumption in the brain, and (3) the BOLD response to cocaine following repeated, daily exposure resulted in a blunted BOLD response to the drug.

Activation maps of positive blood-oxygenation-level-dependent (BOLD) signal in response to intracerebroventricular cocaine administration (20 ug/10 uL). The colored pixels represent brain areas that showed signal intensity values significantly different from baseline. Statistical significance was determined with the Stimulate software (Strupp, 1996) using a pixel-by-pixel t-test analysis (P < 0.05) comparing baseline to a post-cocaine injection period. Activated pixels from each rat were overlaid on their corresponding anatomy. PFC, prefrontal cortex; NAcc, nucleus accumbens; STR, dorsal striatum; VTA, ventral tegmental area; SN, substantia nigra. Figure published at J Neurosci Methods. 2004 Oct 30;139(2):167-76.

Activation maps of positive blood-oxygenation-level-dependent (BOLD) signal in response to intracerebroventricular cocaine administration (20 ug/10 uL). The colored pixels represent brain areas that showed signal intensity values significantly different from baseline. Statistical significance was determined with the Stimulate software (Strupp, 1996) using a pixel-by-pixel t-test analysis (P < 0.05) comparing baseline to a post-cocaine injection period. Activated pixels from each rat were overlaid on their corresponding anatomy. PFC, prefrontal cortex; NAcc, nucleus accumbens; STR, dorsal striatum; VTA, ventral tegmental area; SN, substantia nigra. Figure published at J Neurosci Methods. 2004 Oct 30;139(2):167-76.

 
Since my arrival at the University of Florida, and as Program Director of Translational Research Imaging, the breadth and scope of our labs imaging research program has grown and we have dedicated a portion of the work to investigate the neural circuitry and in vivo biological basis of neurologic and neurodegenerative diseases. Our laboratory is uniquely suited to carry out the proposed in vivo brain imaging experiments. First, because of my decade long peer-reviewed expertise where I have consistently applied functional and structural MRI in my research; and second, because of the state of the art facilities and excellent expertise in many other areas available as resources and through collaborations at the University of Florida Advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy facility. Our collaborations are very likely to lead to unconventional but important findings that could have a positive impact on the lives of many suffering complex neurological disorders.

4.7 T MR scanner for rodent studies. It is an actively-shielded 33 cm bore magnet. It is controlled by an Agilent VNMRS console/VnmrJ3.1 with 4 1H /1 BB transmitter and 4 channel receivers

4.7 T MR scanner for rodent studies. It is an actively-shielded 33 cm bore magnet. It is controlled by an Agilent VNMRS console/VnmrJ3.1 with 4 1H /1 BB transmitter and 4 channel receivers

 

Professional

Editorial Board, Frontiers in Neuropharmacology

Editorial Board, Journal of Addiction and Prevention

Editorial Board, American Journal of Neurodegenerative Diseases

Editorial Board, Brain Sciences

Editorial Board, Frontiers in Child and Neurodevelopmental Psychiatry

Editorial Board, Frontiers in Eating Behavior

Editorial Board, Journal of Reward Deficiency Syndrome

Member, Society for Neuroscience

Member, Florida Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience

Member, International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM)

Member, The American Physiological Society

Member, National High Field Magnet Laboratory, Florida State University/University of Florida/Los Alamos National Laboratories

Diversity Committee Member, National High Field Magnet Laboratory, Tallahassee

Research Program Committee Member, National High Field Magnet Laboratory, Tallahassee

Ad Hoc Grant Reviewer, Puerto Rico Science Trust

Ad hoc reviewer National Science Foundation CAREER award program

Ad Hoc Grant Reviewer, Research Council, UK

Touchstone Mentor, Society for Neuroscience Scholars Program

Hispanic Role Model Mentor, NIH/University of Puerto Rico NeuroID Program (ENDURE)