Valentina Vozella is a Postdoctoral researcher in the department of Molecular Medicine at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego. Valentina looks to understand the effects of social isolation and alcohol drinking on the adolescent brain and their possible long-term impacts.
Valentina was born in a small town in the northern part of Italy, Como, which is very famous for its gorgeous lake and Alessandro Volta, the inventor of the electric battery. She is the first in her family to graduate from college and receive a PhD. Valentina attended the University of Milan in Italy, where she studied pharmacy and pharmaceutical science. She was a graduate student at the Italian Institute of Technology, where she earned her doctorate degree in drug discovery in 2018 under the supervision of Professor Daniele Piomelli. She used analytical chemistry and in vivo models to understand how aging changes lipid neurotransmitters in the brain. During her doctoral studies, Valentina was invited to join the University of California Irvine to continue and expand her research on the effects of the psychoactive component of cannabis, THC, on the adolescent brain. She then obtained a fellowship from the School of Pharmacy at the University of Southern California, that allowed her to work in the pharmaceutical company Allergan.
Valentina joined Marisa Roberto’s laboratory at Scripps Research in 2020. She works on the brain systems that are involved in stress and alcohol use disorders, and how to target them pharmacologically. Her goal is to use her drug discovery background and in vivo and ex vivo approaches to validate targets and help push novel therapies for the management of addiction and stress-related disorders forward. She is particularly interested in the developing brain and how we can capture and prevent long-lasting, detrimental brain changes.
"Adolescent social isolation stress and related alcohol drinking is a major and very timely public health problem that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Altogether, it can lead to lasting disruptions of brain functions, and results in anxiety-like behaviors, social anxiety, irritability and predisposes to dysregulated alcohol drinking and AUD in adulthood. My longitudinal studies aim to characterize the synergistic consequences of social isolation stress and alcohol exposure across the lifespan at the molecular, synaptic, and behavioral level with focus on endocannabinoid-related mechanisms. These studies will shed light on the long-term impact of social isolation stress and alcohol use on adolescent and adult brain and will identify components of the endocannabinoid signaling as potential therapeutic targets to treat and/or prevent stress and alcohol-induced developmental impairments. My research program is contributing to NIAAA mission to improve prevention and treatment of alcohol-related problems across the lifespan and develop evidence-based prevention and treatment strategies."