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Nicole M. Avena, Ph.D.

Contact Information:
Dr. Nicole M. Avena
Department of Psychiatry
University of Florida College of Medicine
PO Box 100256
Gainesville, FL 32610-0256


Dr. Avena holds a dual appointment as an Assistant Professor in the University of Florida Department of Psychiatry, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL, and in the Princeton University Department of Psychology, Princeton, NJ

Research Area:
Dr. Avena’s research is concerned with eating disorders.

B.A.  Rutgers University, Rutgers College, New Brunswick, NJ
M.A.  Princeton University, Princeton NJ
Ph.D. Princeton University, Princeton NJ
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Molecular Biology, The Rockefeller University,  NewYork, NY

Current Research:
Dr. Avena is interested in understanding why some individuals develop aberrant eating behaviors. Her work has largely focused on studying the concept of food addiction using animal models. She and her colleagues have shown that rats binge eating sucrose come to develop a behavioral phenotype and concomitant neural changes that are similar to the effects of some drugs of abuse. She has applied and extended this work to the study of other nutrients, including fats. Other research interests include understanding the neural basis of eating disorders, such as bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. Dr. Avena is also interested in translational research and in using information derived from animal models to better understand eating disorders and obesity in a clinical setting.

Recent Publications:
Bocarsly ME, Berner LA, Hoebel BG, Avena NM.  (2011)  Rats that binge eat fat-rich food do not show somatic signs or anxiety associated with opiate-like withdrawal:  Implications for nutrient-specific-food addiction behaviors.

Physiol Behav., 104(5):865-872.  PMID:  21635910

Bocarsly ME, Powell ES, Avena NM, Hoebel BG (2010)  High-fructose corn syrup causes characteristics of obesity in rats: Increased body weight, body fat and triglyceride levels.
Pharmacol Biochem Behav, 97, 101-106.  PMID: 20219526

Geiger BM, Haburcak M, Avena NM, Moyer MC, Hoebel BG, Pothos EN. (2009)  Deficits of mesolimbic dopamine neurotransmission in rat dietary obesity.
 Neuroscience, 159(4):1193-1199. PMID: 19409204

Avena NM, Rada P, Hoebel BG.  (2009)  Sugar and fat bingeing have notable differences in addictive-like behavior.
 J Nutr., 139(3):623-8.

Berner LA, Avena NM, Hoebel BG. (2008)  Bingeing, self-restriction, and increased body weight in rats with limited access to a sweet-fat diet.
Obesity (Silver Spring), 16(9):1998-2002.  PMID: 19186326

Avena NM, Rada P, Hoebel BG.  (2008)  Underweight rats have enhanced dopamine release and a blunted acetylcholine satiety response in the nucleus accumbens while bingeing on sucrose.  Neuroscience, 156(4): 865-871.