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Candice Contet

Principal Investigator

Candice is an Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular Medicine at The Scripps Research Institute (La Jolla, CA). She obtained her Ph.D. at the University of Strasbourg (France) under the mentorship of Dr. Brigitte Kieffer. She pursued her postdoctoral training with Dr. Athina Markou (UCSD) and Dr. George Koob (TSRI). She joined TSRI faculty in 2011 and has since developed an NIH-funded research program dedicated to the elucidation of molecular and neural circuit mechanisms underlying drug addiction, and excessive alcohol drinking in particular.


Max Kreifeldt

Research Assistant

Max has been a Research Assistant in the Contet lab since 2012. He conducts behavioral testing, alcohol vapor exposure, stereotaxic surgeries, brain sectioning, mouse genotyping, and molecular analyses. He trains students and manages the everyday life of the lab.

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Agbonlahor Okhuarobo

External Graduate Student 

Agbonlahor is a graduate student from the University of Benin, Nigeria, where he is also a Junior Lecturer in Pharmacology and Toxicology. He obtained his Bachelor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Benin and his Master of Science degree in Pharmacology from the University of East London (UK). He joined the Contet lab in November 2018. He developed a mouse model of the interaction between early life stress and vulnerability to alcohol dependence. He also contributes to our investigation of the role of parasubthalamic CRF neurons in alcohol drinking escalation and withdrawal-associated negative affect.

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Briana Martinez

Research Associate 

Briana graduated from Arizona State University in May 2020 and joined the Contet lab for postdoctoral training shortly after. She is spearheading the analysis of proteomic datasets in collaboration with the MacCoss and Torkamani laboratories to discover novel molecular determinants of ethanol drinking escalation. She leverages her programming skills to implement network analysis and characterize proteome-wide effects of alcohol dependence/abstinence and their reversal by genetic and pharmacological manipulations.

Jeff Dunning

Research Associate 

Jeff graduated from the University of Wyoming in August 2017, did a first postdoc at Vanderbilt University, and joined the Contet lab in January 2021. His goal is to leverage genetic models and optical techniques to investigate the activity of parasubthalamic neuronal ensembles in response to alcohol consumption, seeking, and withdrawal, as well as other rewarding and aversive stimuli.

Catherine Lopez

Research Technician

Catherine joined the Contet lab in February 2021. Her animal handling skills are a great asset to our behavior-heavy projects. She assists with behavioral testing, alcohol vapor exposure, drug administration, and mouse genotyping. She is also piloting a model of increased ethanol seeking and consumption triggered by a frustrative cue.


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Harpreet Sidhu

Harpreet graduated from University of California Riverside in 2014 and was a postdoctoral fellow in the Contet lab from September 2014 to October 2017. She identified molecular, cellular and behavioral alterations associated with withdrawal from chronic alcohol exposure in mice. She was awarded an F32 fellowship from NIAAA to study the implication of matrix metalloproteinases in the transition to alcohol dependence. Harpreet is now Head of Molecular Biology and Stem Cell Biologist at Rinati Skin LLC, Los Angeles, CA.

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Scott Goulding

Scott graduated from Colorado University in 2015 and was a postdoctoral fellow in the Contet lab from June 2015 to August 2017. He conducted proteomic analysis of brain samples from alcohol-dependent mice and identified novel molecular adaptations driving alcohol drinking escalation. Scott is now a Senior Scientist at BioNTech SE, Cambridge, MA.


Pushpita Bhattacharyya

Pushpita graduated from the University of California, San Diego in 2018 with a B.S. in Cognitive Science and was a Research Technician in the Contet lab from December 2019 to July 2020. She contributed her programming skills to write scripts for the analysis of fiber photometry signals, DIA mass spectrometry data, and circadian rhythmicity. She is currently a graduate student at the University of Delaware.

Giovana Macedo

Giovana graduated from Federal University of Sao Paulo in 2017 and was a postdoctoral fellow in the Contet lab from July 2018 to May 2021. She used her behavioral expertise to improve the characterization of alcohol abstinence in mice and identify behaviors driven by parasubthalamic neurons. She also contributed to analyzing molecular changes in brain regions of alcohol-dependent animals. Giovana is now continuing her postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Eric Zorrilla.

Undergraduate students

Carissa Perez (University of California San Diego, 2012)

Roxana Shahryari (San Diego Miramar College, 2017-2018)

Ryan Hakim (University of California San Diego, 2018)

Tanvi Shah (Scripps College, 2018-2019)

Sophia Zhu (University of Pennsylvania, 2019)

Thao Nguyen (Newman University, 2019)

Maggie Angelo (California State University San Marcos, 2021)

High school interns

Sophia Zhu (San Dieguito Academy, 2017)

Cesar Andres Contreras (Eastlake High School, 2020-2021)

Ashley Ma (Westview High School, 2020)

Maya Mehta (Torrey Pines High School, 2021)