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ANFA welcomes two new Board Members!

ANFA welcomes two new Board Members!

ANFA is proud to announce and welcome two new members to the Board of Directors: Marisa Roberto, Ph.D. of the Scripps Research Institute, and Satchidananda Panda, Ph.D. of the Salk Institute. Both researchers investigate how the built environment influences certain behaviors.

To learn more about Marisa and Satchin, click on the links below:

Marisa Roberto, Ph.D.

Professor of Neuroscience, Scripps Research Institute



Dr. Roberto is a Professor of Neuroscience at the Scripps Research Institute where her research focus has been to elucidate the neuroadaptations induced by stress, alcohol and other drugs of abuse (cocaine, opioids, nicotine etc) in the amygdala, a brain region crucial in mediating the behavioral effects of acute and chronic drug consumption. In 2005, she was awarded the Young Investigator Award from the Research Society on Alcoholism, and in 2008, she received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), which is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers. Dr. Roberto was Knighted in her own native country with the “Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy” in 2011, and in 2016 received the Waletzky Award from the Society for Neuroscience…. She also organizes the triannual international conference on “Alcoholism and Stress: A Framework for Future Treatment Strategies” in Italy, and is a member of several professional organizations, including the Research Society for Alcoholism and the Society for Neuroscience.


Marisa Roberto understands that the use of addictive drugs changes the way the brain is wired and that specific neuronal mechanisms underlie synaptic and/or molecular changes in brain circuitry to influence the development of dependence to alcohol and other drugs of abuse. She truly believes that environmental stressors play an important role in excessive drug intake and in the development of addiction. Understanding how stressful stimuli influence brain activity and the motivation to take drug is critical for relapse prevention.

Featured Projects

Drug addiction is a chronic relapsing illness that accounts for major disability worldwide and available treatments are insufficient. Using electrophysiological, pharmacological, advanced imaging and molecular methods, we primarily study the synapses of the amygdala, a brain region considered to be crucial in mediating the behavioral effects of acute and chronic drug (cocaine, opioids, alcohol, nicotine, etc.) consumption. We have characterized several neuroadaptative changes that provide seminal insights into synaptic transmission and addictive behaviors. Our studies have identified key functional roles for neuropeptides (corticotropin-releasing factor, Oxytocin, etc.) and other neuromessenger systems (endocannabinoids, norepinephrine, opioids, etc.) in amygdalar and cortical circuits that mediate motivated behavior. We have also investigated the downstream effectors that translate signals from receptors (particularly G protein-coupled receptors) to intracellular signaling pathways, which are disrupted with drug addiction. Our findings provide a framework for elucidating treatment targets that will facilitate medication development and may help tailor personalized therapies to alleviate drug dependence and prevent relapse.

New Research Direction

Using advanced imaging, immunohistochemical and electrophysiological techniques Dr. Roberto’s lab aims to determine the role of innate immune factors (e.g., cytokines) in alcohol drinking and dependence.

Addiction to alcohol and other drugs of abuse (e.g. nicotine; cocaine, etc.) develop concurrently and are highly co-morbid in humans. We especially predict that simultaneous ethanol and nicotine or cocaine dependence will synergistically increase activation of inflammatory signaling in the brain.

Satchidananda Panda, Ph.D.

Regulatory Biology Laboratory
Salk Institute, La Jolla, CA


BS, Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology, India
PhD, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California
Postdoctoral Researcher, Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation, San Diego, California


2006 Pew Scholar
2006 Dana Foundation Award in Brain and Immune System Imaging


Satchin Panda, a professor in the Regulatory Biology Laboratory, is interested in understanding the molecular mechanism of the biological clock in a mouse model system. The biological clock or circadian oscillator in most organisms coordinates behavior and physiology with the natural light-dark cycle. His laboratory uses genetic, genomics and biochemical approaches to identify genes under circadian regulation in different organs and to understand the mechanism of such regulation. His lab also tries to characterize the mechanism by which the circadian oscillator is synchronized to the natural light-dark condition. Both classical rod/cone photoreceptors and a newly identified ocular photopigment melanopsin participate in photoentrainment of the clock. Research in his lab is geared towards identifying molecular components and events critical for transmitting light information from the eye to the master oscillator in the brain.









Published on May 18, 2017.