Christie Fowler, UCI assistant professor of neurobiology & behavior, is one of six scientists to receive Avenir Awards from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to support highly promising and innovative early-stage research in HIV/AIDS or the genetics/epigenetics of substance abuse. Her research will explore novel brain activity associated with nicotine addiction. Fowler will investigate how gene messaging changes in a neural pathway that regulates the aversive properties of nicotine enhance the addictive nature of the drug. By identifying these underlying mechanisms, she hopes to provide a blueprint for the development of new treatments for nicotine addiction/smoking cessation. As part of the Avenir Award, NIDA is granting Fowler $2.3 million over five years for her research.