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Candice Contet
Principal Investigator

Candice is an Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular Medicine at The Scripps Research Institute. 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, and molecular analyses. His engineering skills and creative mindset are great assets for the design and improvement of our procedures and equipment.

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Jeff Dunning
Staff Scientist 

Jeff graduated from the University of Wyoming in 2017, did a first postdoc at Vanderbilt University, and joined the Contet lab in January 2021. He was promoted to Staff Scientist in September 2023. 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. He is also developing methodologies for cell-type specific proteomics and other molecular assays.

Catherine Lopez
Research Assistant

Catherine joined the Contet lab in February 2021. Her animal handling skills are a great asset to our behavior-heavy projects. She is in charge of mouse genotyping and brain micropunching and coordinates our brain histology pipeline. She is also an amazing mentor to our high school interns!

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Kiera Fleck
Graduate Student

Kiera is a second-year graduate student in the Contet lab. She received her B.S.E in Biomedical Engineering and a minor in Mathematics from Arizona State University in 2022. Her Ph.D. research project aims to unlock the molecular mechanism mediating the effects of chronic alcohol exposure on myelination. In her free time, Kiera enjoys playing the piano, baking, and visiting the beach.


Allison White
Postdoctoral fellow

Allison graduated from West Virginia University in November 2023 and will be joining the Contet lab in February 2024 for her postdoctoral training. She was awarded a prestigious F99/K00 fellowship from NIH. Her goal is to explore molecular adaptations developing in brain astrocytes upon chronic alcohol exposure and the significance of gap junctions for the regulation of alcohol intake and neuronal excitability in alcohol dependence.


Leeann Shu (University of California, San Diego)


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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 Senior Scientist at VitroLabs Inc.

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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 II, Team Lead at BioNTech SE.


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 Research Associate at the The Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute.

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 was recruited as Scientist, In Vivo Pharmacology at HD Biosciences Co.

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Briana Martinez

Briana graduated from Arizona State University in May 2020 and was a postdoctoral fellow in the Contet lab from June 2020 to August 2021. She spearheaded the analysis of proteomic datasets in collaboration with the MacCoss and Torkamani laboratories to discover novel molecular determinants of ethanol drinking escalation. She leveraged her programming skills to implement network analysis and characterize proteome-wide effects of alcohol dependence/abstinence and their reversal by genetic and pharmacological manipulations. Briana is now Scientific Analyst at Morrison Foerster.

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Agbonlahor Okhuarobo

Agbonlahor completed his Ph.D. research in the Contet lab from November 2018 to October 2021 and graduated from the University of Benin, Nigeria, in February 2022. He developed a mouse model of the interaction between early life stress and vulnerability to alcohol dependence. He also contributed to our investigation of the role of parasubthalamic CRF neurons in alcohol drinking escalation and withdrawal-associated negative affect. He is now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto (Tyndale lab).

Graduate students

Marcos Ucha-Tortuero (6-month visit from PhD program at National University of Distance Education, Spain, 2013)

Lea Giron (6-month visit from PharmD program at Strasbourg University, France, 2013-2014)

Ellie Petty (Scripps Research graduate program rotation, 2022)

Berta Escudero Moreno (6-month visit from PhD program at Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain, 2022-2023)

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, 2021-2022)

Colton Krull (University of California, San Diego, 2021-2022)

High school interns

Brandon Hedges (High Tech High Chula Vista, 2015)

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, 2021-2023)

Kera Norris (High Tech High Point Loma, 2022)

Kimberly Rodriguez (Harvey Mudd College Upward Bound Program, 2022)

Celeste Moreau (La Jolla High School, 2022-2023)

Zion Marfo (High Tech High Point Loma, 2022)

Juana Herrera (Harvey Mudd College Upward Bound Program, 2023)

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