Addictions and Gender

Research Symposium

Wednesday, April 24, 2013
3:30 to 5:00 pm
BU School of Medicine
Bakst Auditorium, Instructional building (72 E. Concord)

Free and open to BU and VA faculty, staff & students

New research with human and nonhuman participants has confirmed that gender differences are manifested differently in the addictions.


The Role of Gender in Alcoholism: Insights from Neuroimaging

Susan M.M. Ruiz, Ph.D.
Laboratory of Neuropsychology, BU School of Medicine, and VA Boston Healthcare System

Susan Mosher Ruiz, PhD

Susan Mosher Ruiz, PhD

There exist clear differences in how alcohol affects men and women physiologically and in how they progress from social- to problem-drinkers. Gender differences in the long-term effects of chronic alcoholism are currently under debate, often with a focus on proclaiming whether men or women suffer the most impact. Beyond differences in physiology and progression toward dependence, recent research has shown that men and women are motivated to drink for different reasons, have different patterns of co-morbidities and co-dependencies, and tend to display different patterns of problem drinking. In the past two decades, neuroimaging research has helped to identify how these factors contribute to the differential impacts of chronic alcoholism on men and women.

Kimberly Leite-Morris, Ph.D.

Kimberly Leite-Morris, Ph.D.

Sex Differences in Long Term Ethanol Binge Drinking of Long Evans Rats

Kimberly A. Leite-Morris, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, BU School of Medicine, Psychiatry

Dr. Leite-Morris will discuss sex differences and the effects of ethanol binge drinking during the female estrous cycle.

Gender Differences in Responses to Cocaine: Lessons from Zebrafish

Irina Zhdanova, MD, Ph.D.
Professor, BU School of Medicine, Anatomy & Neurobiology

Irina V. Zhdanova, M.D., Ph.D.

Irina V. Zhdanova, M.D., Ph.D.

Human studies indicate that women, compared to men, show faster progression from cocaine use to cocaine dependence and may suffer more from cocaine withdrawal. Such increased vulnerability to cocaine, destructive to individual women, can also translate into prenatal cocaine exposure in their babies, yet another detrimental consequence of drug abuse. Dr. Zhdanova employs a zebrafish model to explore the effects of cocaine and the mechanisms involved in gender differences in responses to this major psychostimulant, with a focus on one of the integrating physiological systems – the biological clock.

Women and Addiction: Themes and Treatment Strategies

Joni L. Utley, Psy.D., LCDR, USCGR
VA Boston Healthcare System

Joni L. Utley, Psy.D.

Joni L. Utley, Psy.D.

Dr. Utley’s presentation focuses on research and clinical application. She will discuss themes and interventions in women’s substance abuse recovery, particularly focusing on “A Woman’s Path to Recovery,” a treatment model being conducted as part of a randomized controlled trial at VA Boston and VA Bedford that has the potential to address the specific needs of women.



Marlene Oscar Berman, PhD,

Marlene Oscar Berman, PhD

Marlene Oscar Berman, Ph.D.

Professor of Neurology, Psychiatry, and Anatomy & Neurobiology
VA Research Career Scientist

Director, Ph.D. Program in Behavioral Neuroscience
BU School of Medicine