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ClydeClyde W. Hodge, Ph.D. W. Hodge, Ph.D. (Principal Investigator)

Dr. Hodge is a Professor in the Dept. of Psychiatry at UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine and serves as Director of the UNC Alcohol Research Center Scientific Core. He earned his MS and PhD from Auburn University followed by postdoctoral training in Behavioral Neuroscience with Dr. Hank Samson at the University of Washington in Seattle. Dr. Hodge’s research is focused on understanding how alcohol and other drugs of abuse hijack brain reward pathways to produce drug-seeking behavior. His work on alcohol addiction has been funded continuously by the NIH / NIAAA for 27 years. Dr. Hodge is the recipient of an NIH MERIT (R37) award.




Sara Faccidomo, Ph.D. (Research Assistant Professor)

Dr. Faccidomo is a Research Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Psychiatry at UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine and member of the Alcohol Research Center. She earned her BA, MS, and PhD from Tufts University where she worked with Dr. Klaus Miczek. Dr. Faccidomo is an expert in behavioral and molecular neuroscience of addiction. Her work has moved the field forward in understanding the neurobiology of alcohol and aggression, maladaptive consequences of maternal separation and stress, and the role of protein kinases (ERK and CaMKII) and glutamatergic receptor signaling in the reinforcing effects of alcohol.




Jessica L. Hoffman, Ph.D. (Research Associate)

Dr. Hoffman is conducting research on the molecular mechanisms of alcohol self-administration and relapse funded by an F32 award from the NIAAA.  She received her BA from the University of Missouri – Columbia in 2007 and an MA from University Missouri – St Louis in May 2013 with a focus on neuroendocrinology research in the Taylor Lab. She transitioned into neuroscience research focused on alcohol and drug abuse in the Kirstein Lab at the University of South Florida where she earned a PhD in 2018. Dr. Hoffman is currently focused on alcohol addiction research with a primary interest in the neural mechanisms responsible for both the reinforcing and damaging properties of alcohol.





Bella Dinu, B.S. (Research Technician)

Bella received her B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with a minor in Neuroscience from the University of South Carolina. At USC Bella worked with Peter Vento to help develop behavioral methods, and conducted research on how brain circuits that regulate motivation influence drug addiction and dependence. In her current position as a Research Technician, Bella is working on several current projects designed to evaluate novel mechanisms of the positive reinforcing effects of alcohol, behavioral adaptation to cocaine and morphine, and the impact of alcohol use on the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. These projects have potential to lead to new medications for the treatment of alcohol and substance abuse, and for the mitigation of Alzheimer’s like neural and behavioral pathology associated with heavy alcohol use.




Rosie Rafferty, B.S. (Research Technician)

Rosie received her B.S. in Psychology from the College of Charleston in May of 2023. During her studies, Rosie focused on novel PTSD treatments as well as the issue of comorbid PTSD and substance use disorders in the veteran population. Rosie is working on multiple projects in the lab including evaluating novel mechanisms of the reinforcing effects of alcohol and investigating the role of TARP gamma-8 as a mechanism of behavioral sensitization to psychomotor stimulants and opiates.







Julie Lee, B.S.

Julie received her B.S. in Chemistry and Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) major at UNC Chapel Hill. She is working on several projects including evaluating the impact of alcohol dependence on glutamate AMPA receptor gene and protein expression, and determining how alcohol exposure alters expression of mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease, such as Tau,  in specific brain regions. Julie recently won 2nd place in the 2021 Sigma Xi National Student Research Competition.



Former Lab Members

Ciarra Whindleton, B.A. (Research Technician)

Ciarra received her B.A. in Biology from the University of Virginia where she conducted preclinical research on the neural circuitry that controls food-intake, novelty seeking, and impulsivity with Dr. Michael Scott. While in the Hodge Lab, Ciarra served as Lab Manager and conducted research focused on elucidating the molecular mechanisms of the reinforcing, or addictive, properties of alcohol. Her efforts uncovered novel molecular targets of alcohol in specific cortico-limbic brain regions that, in turn, regulate behavioral pathologies in addiction, such as repetitive alcohol self-administration.


Ciarra is presently pursuing a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota!


A couple group photos: