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College of Arts and Sciences

Members of the Institute of NeuroImmune Pharmacology (INIP)

Sulie ChangSulie L. Chang, Ph.D.
Professor and Director
Dr. Chang served as the chair of the Department of Biology at Seton Hall University (SHU) from 1999-2005 and as the Director of Graduate Studies from 2003-2005.  Currently, she is the Director of the Institute of NeuroImmune Pharmacology (INIP) which has given her the opportunity to collaborate with other NIH funded scientists, both within and outside of the United States. Throughout her research career over the past two decades, one of her main goals has been to share her research findings with both the scientific community and the general public.  As a result, she has participated in many scientific conferences, and served as chair and co-chair of several committees.  She served as co-chair of the Petersheim Academic Exposition at SHU from 1991-2005 and again from 2005-to present.  This Exposition has had great success in bringing together researchers from the various colleges in the University, and has grown to include international and distinguished scientists from around the country.  She is a charter member of the Society on NeuroImmune Pharmacology (SNIP), and has received two awards from the Society in recognition of her contributions.  The first was the Herman Friedman Founder's award in 2002 and the second was the Distinguished Service Award in 2009.  Also in 2009, She served as co-chair of the first International SNIP Scientific Conference in Wuhan, China.  She has recently been appointed chair of a NIH study section. This is a great honor.

Dr. Chang's personal research experience, beginning with her Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Ohio State University and continuing through her post-doctoral fellowship in Cell Biology at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the NIH, has focused on neuroimmunology and the effects of substance abuse on immune responses.  Her current research investigates: (a) feedback interactions between drug abuse and microbial infection, including HIV, in the CNS; (b) molecular mechanisms underlying nicotine's modulatory effects on learning behavior in the presence of HIV-1 viral proteins; (c) age-dependent developmental changes in neurotransmitter systems in the brain; and (d) alcohol related behavior disorders in adolescents.  Her research has been funded by NIH and she has served as the Principal Investigator (PI) on NIH funded grants since 1989, in the area of neuroimmune modulation by various substances of abuse including morphine, ethanol, cocaine, methamphetamine and nicotine.  At presently, she is the PI on two R01 grants from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), one RC2 grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), and a K02-Independent Scientist Career Award from NIDA.  Dr. Chang is currently developing a mentoring program to foster a career development of faculty within and outside of SHU.

Susan J. Abbondanzo
Ph.D. Candidate - Molecular Bioscience
Susan earned her BS from Cook College, Rutgers University and her MS from Fairleigh Dickinson University.  She put her dreams of pursuing a PhD on hold to raise her two children and, with the support of her family, in 2006 was accepted into the Molecular Biosciences PhD program at Seton Hall University. While continuing to work full-time as a research scientist in the pharmaceutical industry, Susan has been able to continue her education as a part-time student at Seton Hall. She joined the INIP with Dr. Sulie Chang's lab in the fall of 2012 and is currently investigating    immunophenotypic profiles of an HIV transgenic animal model.

Kaitlyn P. Connaghan, MA
Editorial Assistant

Kaitlyn is currently a graduate student in Clinical Psychology at Rivier University in Nashua, New Hampshire.  She received her B.A. in Psychology from Saint Anselm College in 2006 where she conducted undergraduate research in behavioral pharmacology.  This research interest led her to the laboratory of Dr. Sulie L. Chang while completing her Master's degree in Theology at Seton Hall University.  During this time, she became the Project Coordinator for the Institute of NeuroImmune Pharmacology.  Upon relocating to New Hampshire in the fall of 2012 to attend school, she accepted a position as Editorial Assistant for the INIP.  Kaitlyn currently assists with the preparation and editing of manuscripts and grant applications for the Institute.  Her work at the INIP has provided a great background for her current clinical work in substance abuse treatment.

Dana F. Cordasco, MS
Ms. Cordasco received her BA Magna cum Laude in Chemistry and Mathematics from Caldwell College in 2008 after a long and successful career as an IT professional in the publishing industry. Cordasco joined Dr. Yufeng Wei's research group at Seton Hall University in 2009, and completed her Master's in Chemistry in December 2011. Her research focuses on determining the structure and dynamics of proteins using NMR spectroscopy. Ms. Cordasco enjoys teaching Chemistry laboratory classes at Seton Hall University and also works as an Adjunct Mathematics Instructor at Caldwell College. When she's not teaching or in her research lab, Ms. Cordasco enjoys spending time with her two sons.

Stacie-Ann Creighton, MS
Ph.D. Candidate - Molecular Bioscience

Stacie-Ann R. Creighton is a Doctoral candidate at Seton Hall University working in the Institute of NeuroImmune Pharmacology (INIP).   Creighton graduated with a B.S. in Microbiology from Florida Atlantic University in 1999.  She received her M.S. in Microbiology form Seton Hall University in 2007.   She is currently employed by Roche Molecular Diagnostics as Manager of Vigilance, Quality Audits, & CAPA Management.

Maria Gordish
Ph.D. Candidate - Molecular Bioscience

Maria Gordish is a Doctoral candidate at Seton Hall University working in the Institute of NeuroImmune Pharmacology (INIP).   Ms. Gordish graduated with a B.S. in Biology from the University of Dayton in 1999 and received her M.S. in Microbiology form Seton Hall University in 2007.   She is currently employed by Roche Molecular Diagnostics as the Compliance & Services Manager in the Global Customer Support Department.

Matthew Gross
M.S. Candidate – Experimental Psychology

I am currently an Experimental Psychology student focusing on behavioral neuroscience at Seton Hall University. I grew up in Pennsylvania and matriculated as a Psychology student at Penn State University. As I started taking classes related to Psychology, I became enamored by the study of neuroscience, particularly focusing on drugs and how they affect people in such a variety of ways. Although I find the whole brain and how it works unutterably amazing, studying drugs and their effects became almost compulsory. After graduating from Penn State I received an offer to move out to California. I took the offer and really lived life while I still could. I started applying to schools that had programs related to my fascination of drugs and behavior. I lived out there for over a year and loved every minute of it. Unfortunately, my time out there wasn't bettering my future so I took action. Without wasting any time, after getting accepted into Seton Hall, I moved back East. After one semester within the Experimental Psych. program, it already feels like a family. Fortunately, Dr. Vigorito introduced me to the INIP and Dr. Chang. Although it has only been a couple of months working at the INIP, I feel that I have already learned more than what I had learned with four years of collegiate academics. Eventually I would like to pursue Doctoral studies with cocaethylene, a unique metabolite formed only when cocaine and alcohol are used simultaneously. I anticipate continuing this type of work throughout my career and hope to make a difference while doing so.

Eric LeTellier, BS
M.S. Candidate - Biology: Neuroscience

Xiangquia Liu, Ph.D.
Adjunct Faculty, Tongji Medical College
Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China

Xin Mao, Ph.D.
Senior Research Associate

Xin Mao is a senior research associate of visiting scholar in INIP since 2010.  And she is also an associate professor of Wuhan University in China.  Her research work focus on study the mechanism of the brain-immune axis of substance abuse and AIDS systematically from molecular level to behavior level.

Sraboni Sarkar
Ph.D. Candidate - Molecular Bioscience

Ms. Sarkar is a predoctoral student, in her fourth year, in the Molecular Bioscience program at Seton Hall University.  She is completing her dissertation research at the Institute of NeuroImmune Pharmacology (INIP), under the mentorship of Dr. Sulie L. Chang. Growing up, Ms. Sarkar had always been interested in science and always wanted to be a scientist.  Although she was born in the United States (US), she spent her middle and high school years in India since she travelled with her parents for work.  This exposed her to different educational methods, particularly in science.  As an undergraduate, Sraboni performed research in a structural biology laboratory studying the structural and functional characterization of a serine protease (Lon).  During the completion of her M.S. degree, she had the good fortune of working for an Alzheimer's Disease (AD) drug discovery private laboratory (Neurotez) where she studied the role of leptin as a potential treatment for AD, in particular looking at its effects on tau phosphorylation.  Her research in AD led to an interest on brain physiology and behavior.  The research of her mentor, Dr. Chang, on addiction and substances of abuse in HIV-1 disease conditions as well as her interest in brain physiology and behavior have led to her study of the effects of acute alcohol abuse on brain physiology and behavior in the HIV-1 disease condition.  Sraboni's research career goal is to contribute innovative and meaningful information to the field of biomedical science, and thus, to help in the betterment of healthcare and medical research.

Michael Vigorito, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology

Dr. Vigorito has been a full time faculty member of the Psychology Department at Seton Hall University since 1989.  He received his doctorate in Experimental Psychology at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and post-doctoral training in behavioral pharmacology at Rutgers University. His research investigates learning and behavior in laboratory rodents. Since joining INIP he has collaborated on several projects with Dr. Sulie Chang examining the impact of altered neuro-immune function on learning, memory, and sensitivity to drugs of abuse.

Yufeng Wei, Ph.D.
Assistant Director

All of her former trainees have gone on to successful careers in academy, industry, and clinical practice.  With her continuous K02 funding, she devotes significant time and effort to research and mentoring.