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Current Trainees

Lauren Topper, B.Sc. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Michigan State University 

Period of UNM-ARTN support: 06/01/2011-present; mentor: Valenzuela.  Lauren Topper is a second year BSGP student.  She joined the laboratory of Dr. Valenzuela in Fall, 2011. Lauren graduated from Michigan State University in 2010 with a B.Sc in Biochemisty and Molecular Biology.  Lauren’s dissertation project focuses on the effects of developmental ethanol exposure on glutamatergic transmission in the hippocampal CA3 region.  


Gray DW, Breneman SR, Topper LA, Sharkey TD.  Biochemical characterization and homology modeling of methylbutenol synthase and implications for understanding hemiterpene synthase evolution in plants.  J. Biol Chem. 2011 Jun 10. 286 (23): 20582-90.

Valenzuela, CF., Morton RA, Diaz MR, Topper L. Does moderate drinking harm the fetal brain? Insights from animal models.  Trends in Neuroscience.  35, 284-292, 2012.

Chen W, Kaplan BL, Pike ST, Topper LA, Lichorobiec NR, Simmons SO, Ramabhadran R, Kaminski NE.  Magnitude of stimulation dictates the cannabinoid-mediated differential T cell response to HIVgp120.  J Leukoc Biol. 2012 Aug 16. [Epub ahead of print]

L. Topper; K.K. Caldwell; C.F. Valenzuela (2012) Effects of moderate prenatal ethanol exposure on kainate receptor function in the CA3 hippocampal region.  Research Society on Alcoholism Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA.

Kristin L. Marquardt, B.Sc. in  Biology/Chemistry and Psychology Minors from University of Denver

Kristin Marquardt Picture

Period of UNM-ARTN support: 08/01/2013-present; mentor: Brigman.  Christina is a second year BSGP student.  She joined the laboratory of Dr. Brigman in the fall of 2013.  Kristin's dissertation project focuses on the impact of prenatal ethanol exposure on executive function in mice.  


Saha, M, Marquardt, K, Sigdel, R, Stevens, W, and Brigman, JL. The effects of constitutive deletion of GluN2A-containing NMDAR on executive control in an attentional set-shifting paradigm. Presented at: Neuroscience Day 2013, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque, NM, April 2013

Wilkins, H., Marquardt, K., Lash, L., Linseman, D. (2011) Bcl-2 is a novel interacting partner for the 2-oxoglutarate carrier and a key regulator of mitochondrial glutathione. Free Radical Biology and Medicine. PMID: 22115789

Bartley, M., Marquardt, K., Kirchhoff, D., Linseman, D. (2011) Overexpression of amyloidbeta protein precursor induces mitochondrial oxidative stress and activates the intrinsic apoptotic cascade. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. PMID: 22133762

Brian Coffman, M.Sc. in  Psychology from the University of New Mexico

Period of UNM-ARTN support: 05/01/2012-present; mentor: Stephen.
Brian’s is a Psychology graduate student, whose research interests lie in neuroimaging of children and adolescents diagnosed with  FASD, particularly for identification of neurobiological mechanisms of sensory and cognitive dysfunction. He has recruited and collected multimodal neuroimaging (MEG, fMRI, sMRI, DTI), genetic, and neuropsychological data for 18 adolescents with an FASD and 21 age-matched controls, as well as a smaller sample of 10 FASD children and 15 healthy control (HC) children aged 3 to 6 years. Neurophysiological responses to auditory stimuli, somatosensory stimuli, and visual stimuli were measured using MEG, and the multidipole spatio-temporal modeling technique is being used to identify the location and timecourse of cortical activity in response to the sensory stimuli. The timing and amplitude of activity for the cortical sources associated with the response to these stimuli is then compared across groups. In the preliminary findings from this research, Brian and his mentor have discovered a significant delay in primary auditory response (M100 and M200) latencies for the FASD children and adolescents relative to the HC children, as well as a significant delay in primary visual response (M100) latencies for FASD adolescents relative to HC adolescents. These findings suggest that sensory delays revealed by MEG in children with FASDs may prove to be a useful neural marker of information processing difficulties in young children with prenatal alcohol exposure. The fact that delayed auditory responses were observed across the FASD spectrum and age range suggests that it may be a sensitive measure of alcohol-induced brain damage at a wide age range. Therefore, these measures in conjunction with other clinical tools may prove useful for early and/or late identification of alcohol-affected children, particularly those without dysmorphia. Additionally, other neuroimaging, neuropsychological, and genetics data obtained in these studies, including DTI and cognitive fMRI data, will be used to elucidate further markers for FASD, which may prove sensitive and/or specific to the disorder.


 V.P. Clark, B.A. Coffman, C.M. Garcia, A. Van der Merwe, R. Barrow, V.D. Calhoun, D. Puffer, E.M. Raybourn, E.M. Wassermann, M. P. Weisend (2012) TDCS guided using fMRI significantly accelerates learning to identify concealed objects. NeuroImage. 59(1):119-128.

V.P. Clark, B.A. Coffman, M.C. Trumbo, & C. Gasparovic (2011) Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) produces localized and specific alterations in neurochemistry: A 1H magnetic resonance spectroscopy study. Neuroscience Letters. 500:67-71

L.M. Bullard, A.J. van der Merwe, E.S. Browning, V.P. Clark, B.A. Coffman, R.E. Jung, C.M. Garcia, E.B. Kimball, K.M. Paulson, L.E. Petree, A.A. Vakhtin, C.L. Wootton, & M.P. Weisend (2011) Transcranial direct current stimulation’s effect on novice versus experienced learning. Experimental brain research, 213(1):9-13.

Coffman BA, Trumbo MC, Flores RA, Garcia CM, van der Merwe AJ, Wassermann EM, Weisend MP, Clark VP. Impact of tDCS on performance and learning of target detection: Interaction with stimulus characteristics and experimental design. Neuropsychologia. 2012 Mar 19. [Epub ahead of print]

J.M. Stephen, P.W. Kodituwakku, E.L. Kodituwakku, L Romero, A.M. Peters, N.M. Sharadamma, A. Caprihan,& B.A. Coffman (2012) Delays in Auditory Processing Identified in Preschool Children with FASD. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.  2012 Mar 28. [Epub ahead of print]

Robert Oliver, B.A. in  Biological Sciences and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago

Period of UNM-ARTN support: 08/01/2012-present; mentor: Perrone-Bizzozero. Robert is a hispanic student who is in the second year of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program.  He graduated in June 2011 from the U. of Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences (Specialization in Endocrinology) and a Minor in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (Specialization in Egyptology).  His research interests lie in drug and alcohol addiction, with emphasis on micro-RNAs.

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