Dr. Dongju Seo is an associate research scientist in the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University specializing in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Dr. Seo received a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in 2008 and subsequently completed postdoctoral training at Yale University with a focus on stress and addiction. The long-term goal of the candidate is to develop an interdisciplinary program of research to competitively conduct and interpret translational neuroscience research on alcoholism using multimodal neuroimaging and connectivity mapping. Specifically, her research focuses on stress- and autonomic nervous system (ANS)- related neural dysregulation associated with heavy alcohol use, discovering vulnerability markers for alcoholism risk, and developing effective prevention and treatment strategies. Her short-term goal is to obtain the skills and resources required to achieve her long-term goals and to become an independent researcher through the training and support provided by this K08 Award. Her preliminary findings indicate that binge and heavy alcohol use is influenced by a functional disconnectivity between the VmPFC regulatory system and the ANS arousal regions, brain areas involved in the modulation of emotions and rewarding states. Based on this result, it is hypothesized that decreased functional connectivity in the VmPFC-ANS circuit contributes to emotional and ANS disruption and alcohol intake in heavy social drinkers. The candidate aims to test this hypothesis in a larger sample and seeks support to learn new skills for this study. Her research strategy will be to examine brain and ANS response in heavy and light social drinkers using simultaneous fMRI and ANS recording, functional connectivity mapping, and combined clinical design to identify neural measures associated with risk for alcohol abuse. Her training program will cover the following topics relating to the interdisciplinary neuroscience of alcoholism: 1) learning fMRI connectivity mapping and translational neuroscience of alcoholism 2) combining fMRI and ANS techniques and analysis, and 3) developing expertise in longitudinal study design and analysis for alcohol research. Her mentors include internationally prominent experts in translational research on alcoholism (Rajita Sinha, Ph.D.; John H. Krystal, M.D.), multimodal neuroimaging and connectivity mapping (Todd Constable, Ph.D.) and longitudinal research on alcoholism (Howard Tennen, Ph.D.; Ralitza Gueorguieva, Ph.D.). The K08 Award will allow the candidate to acquire new skills and resources to test the hypothesis and provide Dr. Seo with a valuable opportunity to grow into an independent clinical investigator, with expertise in the application of state-of-the art, multimoda neuroimaging techniques to conduct translational neuroscience research on alcoholism.

Public Health Relevance

Alcoholism is a major public health problem often accompanied by emotional and autonomic nervous system (ANS) disruption. The aim of this project is to identify brain-ANS predictors of alcohol abuse using multimodal neuroimaging and connectivity mapping combined with clinical outcome design.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Clinical Investigator Award (CIA) (K08)
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National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Initial Review Group (AA)
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Matochik, John A
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Yale University
Schools of Medicine
New Haven
United States
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Belfort-DeAguiar, Renata; Seo, Dongju; Lacadie, Cheryl et al. (2018) Humans with obesity have disordered brain responses to food images during physiological hyperglycemia. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 314:E522-E529
Hwang, Janice Jin; Parikh, Lisa; Lacadie, Cheryl et al. (2018) Hypoglycemia unawareness in type 1 diabetes suppresses brain responses to hypoglycemia. J Clin Invest 128:1485-1495
Belfort-DeAguiar, Renata; Seo, Dongju (2018) Food Cues and Obesity: Overpowering Hormones and Energy Balance Regulation. Curr Obes Rep 7:122-129
Seo, Dongju; Ahluwalia, Aneesha; Potenza, Marc N et al. (2017) Gender differences in neural correlates of stress-induced anxiety. J Neurosci Res 95:115-125
Zakiniaeiz, Yasmin; Scheinost, Dustin; Seo, Dongju et al. (2017) Cingulate cortex functional connectivity predicts future relapse in alcohol dependent individuals. Neuroimage Clin 13:181-187
Blaine, Sara K; Seo, Dongju; Sinha, Rajita (2017) Peripheral and prefrontal stress system markers and risk of relapse in alcoholism. Addict Biol 22:468-478
Belfort-DeAguiar, R; Seo, D; Naik, S et al. (2016) Food image-induced brain activation is not diminished by insulin infusion. Int J Obes (Lond) 40:1679-1686
Seo, Dongju; Lacadie, Cheryl M; Sinha, Rajita (2016) Neural Correlates and Connectivity Underlying Stress-Related Impulse Control Difficulties in Alcoholism. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 40:1884-94
Sinha, Rajita; Lacadie, Cheryl M; Constable, R Todd et al. (2016) Dynamic neural activity during stress signals resilient coping. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 113:8837-42
Seo, Dongju; Sinha, Rajita (2015) Neuroplasticity and Predictors of Alcohol Recovery. Alcohol Res 37:143-52