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Experimental Psychologist with a Focus on the Science of Addiction Recruited to the Stephenson Cancer Center

Friday, January 15, 2016 - Campus News -

Francesco Versace, Ph.D., an experimental psychologist who specializes in the neuroscience of tobacco and other addictions, has been recruited to the Stephenson Cancer Center at the University of Oklahoma.

Versace will have a key role at the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center at the Stephenson Cancer Center. He will serve as an associate professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. 

His neuroscience research uses electroencephalography (EEG) and functional MRI to study the cognitive and affective processes in nicotine addiction and obesity. Recent research has focused on conducting this investigation in adolescents to examine why some children might be more prone to addiction. 

Research from Versace and the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center aims to address tobacco prevention and cessation more effectively by better understanding why individuals begin and continue to use tobacco. Eventually, this research may help reduce tobacco use in Oklahoma and nationally. Oklahoma’s smoking rate continues to be significantly higher than the national average. 

“We are extraordinarily pleased that Dr. Versace has joined the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center,” said Jennifer Vidrine, Ph.D., director, Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center. “He brings critically important expertise in the study of neuroaffective mechanisms underlying tobacco use and dependence. He is a brilliant scientist, and an outstanding colleague and collaborator.”
Versace’s research is funded by competitively awarded grants from the National Institutes of Health.  

Versace graduated with a degree in Psychology from the University of Bologna in Italy. He completed his doctoral work in Experimental Psychology at the University of Trieste in Italy and postdoctoral work at the University of Florida. Previous to joining the University of Oklahoma, Versace was as an assistant professor in the department of Behavioral Science at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.  

The Stephenson Cancer Center will appoint Versace an Oklahoma TSET Research Scholar in recognition of the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust’s ongoing support for research to reduce the burden of cancer and tobacco use in the state. 

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