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Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Stephanie C. Licata, PhD


        Stephanie C. Licata, PhD


Dr. Licata is an Assistant Professor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Associate Research Pharmacologist within McLean Hospital. Dr. Licata received B.S. degrees in both biology and psychology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst prior to earning a Ph.D. in pharmacology from Boston University School of Medicine in 2003. The title of her dissertation was “Neurochemical mechanisms within the mesolimbic dopamine system of sensitization to the locomotor-stimulating effect of cocaine in rodents”.  During her post-doctoral training at Harvard University’s New England Primate Research Center, Dr. Licata’s research shifted focused to understanding the receptor mechanisms underlying the behavioral effects of sedative/hypnotic drugs using non-human primate models of polydrug abuse, anxiety, and cognition. In 2006 Dr. Licata joined the Behavioral Psychopharmacology Research Laboratory at McLean Hospital in order to expand her skill set to include human behavioral pharmacology and brain imaging.  Currently, her NIDA- and NARSAD-funded research projects are aimed at understanding the neurobiological basis of the effects experienced by people when they take sedative/hypnotic drugs.

       At the completion of this session, the participant will be able to:

1.  Distinguish the non-benzodiazepine hypnotic zolpidem (Ambien) from traditional benzodiazepines.
2.  Describe how zolpidem’s unique pharmacology has been exploited to elucidate GABA-A receptor mechanisms underlying
     sedative/hypnotic action.
3.  Discuss how brain imaging techniques can be used to elucidate the macroscopic substrates of sedative/hypnotic action while
     molecular biology can take us beyond the GABA-A receptor.


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