Jocelyn Richard Hired to the Medical Discovery Team on Addiction

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Naomi McDonald, Director of Communications
August 21, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (August 21, 2017) – The University of Minnesota Medical School today announced that Jocelyn Richard, Ph.D., has accepted a faculty position in the Department of Neuroscience and as a member of the Medical Discovery Team (MDT) on Addiction.

“We are extremely thrilled to have Dr. Richard join this team,” said Dr. Tim Ebner, Head of the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota Medical School. “Jocelyn has unique expertise in studying the distinct pathways in the brain that drive an individual’s motivation towards positive outcomes and how these pathways are impacted by addictive drugs and stress. Her research is destined to provide insights into problems related to initial drug abuse to the inability of so many addicts to avoid relapse.”

Dr. Richard is currently a post-doctoral research fellow at Johns Hopkins University. She holds a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award given to top young scientists in their field. In addition, she received a highly prestigious NARSAD Young Investigator Grant. Her research has been published in top scientific journals including Neuron, Biological Psychiatry and the Journal of Neuroscience. Dr. Richard received her Ph.D. in biopsychology from the University of Michigan and her B.A. in psychobiology with honors from Occidental College.

When asked about her hiring Dr. Richard stated, “Future advances in the treatment of addiction, which presents increasingly devastating costs to society, will require better understanding of the changes in the brain that lead to drug abuse. The new MDT on Addiction will further this goal by coordinating the efforts of researchers from multiple theoretical perspectives and neuroscientific approaches. The substantial shared resources being devoted to this endeavor, in addition to its collaborate nature, make this an exciting opportunity to make meaningful progress in our understanding and treatment of addiction. I am excited to join this coordinated effort and to be part of the vibrant neuroscience community at the University of Minnesota.”

The overarching vision of the Medical Discovery Team on Addiction is to link basic research to new therapeutic approaches to treating substance abuse. The MDT is a multi-departmental endeavor across the University of Minnesota Medical School to advance research and treatment in the field of drug addiction. As part of this team, Dr. Richard will conduct research to gain a better understanding of how different neural circuits within the brain regulate various motivational behaviors, in order to address mechanisms that can both diminish the addictive properties as drugs, as well as increase the ability to fend off urges to continuously abuse them.

“We are working to solve the mystery of how drugs work and thanks to the support the Governor and state lawmakers, the State of Minnesota has appropriated significant funds over the next ten years for the Medical School to create a world-class, neuroscience-based program for the study and treatment of addiction,” said Brooks Jackson, Dean of the Medical School and Vice President for the Health Sciences. Through her work on the Medical Discovery Team, Dr. Richards will work to develop knowledge to help people recovering from addiction achieve longer periods of abstinence.”

The Medical Discovery Team on Addiction is recruiting up to ten basic scientists and physician-scientists from diverse disciplines, including Neuroscience, Neurology, Pharmacology, Psychiatry, and Radiology. Dr. Richard will join the University of Minnesota in June 2018.

About the University of Minnesota Medical School

The University of Minnesota Medical School is at the forefront of learning and discovery, transforming medical care and educating the next generation of physicians. Our graduates and faculty produce high-impact biomedical research and advance the practice of medicine. Visit med.umn.edu to learn how the University of Minnesota is innovating all aspects of medicine.

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