Cody Siciliano

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Cody Siciliano
BornUnited States
🏳️ NationalityAmerican
🎓 Alma materSullivan County Community College
Binghamton University
Wake Forest University
💼 Occupation
Neuropharmacology, Addiction
🏅 AwardsForbes 30 Under 30
Stanley Cohen Innovation Award
Daniel X. Freedman Prize

Cody A. Siciliano is an American neuroscientist and pharmacologist known for his research on the neurotransmitter dopamine, psychoactive substances, and addiction. Siciliano is an Assistant Professor of Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee,[1] where his laboratory is part of the Vanderbilt Center for Addiction Research.[1] His research focuses on uncovering the neural basis of motivated behaviors, and how substances such as cocaine and alcohol act on the brain to produce maladaptive decision-making in some individuals.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

After briefly attending public school, Siciliano was homeschooled from kindergarten through middle school before enrolling in community college.[3] He earned an associate degree from Sullivan County Community College in 2009, then transferred to Binghamton University, both in upstate New York.[3] Siciliano completed a bachelor's degree in psychology in 2011.[4]

Early career and current research[edit]

After earning his bachelor's degree, Siciliano took a position as a technician at Binghamton University where he first gained experience with research and soon pursued a graduate degree in 2012.[3] Siciliano worked as a graduate student in the laboratory of Sara Jones, a neuropharmacologist and analytical chemist known for her work on the dopamine transporter and stimulant drugs,[5] at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. His work with Jones examined the mechanisms by which stimulants such as amphetamine elevate dopamine in the brain, and how dopamine synapses adapt to chronic drug use.[6] He received a PhD in neuroscience in 2015.[4]

After completing his PhD, Siciliano joined Kay Tye’s lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he worked as a postdoctoral researcher.[4][7] He contributed to the scientific discovery of the brain regions, circuits, and neurotransmitter systems that contribute to cognition and behavior using state-of-the-art technologies.[8][9][10][11]

Siciliano joined the faculty at Vanderbilt University as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology in 2019.[4] He currently runs a research lab where he applies new technologies to understand the biological basis of drug effects on neurotransmission and behavior. In particular, his research aims to understand why only some individuals among those who use drugs and alcohol develop addiction.[2][12][13] Siciliano and his collaborators measured the activity of medial prefrontal cortex neurons in mice drinking alcohol for the first time and were able to predict based on neural activity patterns which would go on to exhibit compulsive drinking behavior.[14][15][16][17]

Siciliano is an advocate for the importance of basic science, which refers to research that does not yet have a clinical application.[1]  

Awards and recognition[edit]

Siciliano was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2021.[18] He has also won several awards from scientific societies, including the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation’s 2020 Daniel X. Freedman Prize which recognizes “exceptional basic research.”[19] Siciliano also received research funding to study learning from a neural circuit perspective from the Stanley Cohen Innovation Fund, which supports high-risk high-reward science reminiscent of the late Nobel Prize winner for which it is named.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Siciliano is married to fellow neuroscientist Erin Calipari, University of Kentucky coach John Calipari’s daughter.[21][22] Calipari is also a professor at Vanderbilt and a member of the Vanderbilt Center for Addiction Research.[22]

Select publications[edit]

  • Siciliano, Cody (2019-11-02). "A Cortical-Brainstem Circuit Predicts and Governs Compulsive Alcohol Drinking". Science. 366 (6468): 1008–1012. Bibcode:2019Sci...366.1008S. doi:10.1126/science.aay1186. PMC 6989100 Check |pmc= value (help). PMID 31754002.
  • Vander Weele, Caitlin M.; Siciliano, Cody A.; Matthews, Gillian A.; Namburi, Praneeth; Izadmehr, Ehsan M.; Espinel, Isabella C.; Nieh, Edward H.; Schut, Evelien H. S.; Padilla-Coreano, Nancy; Burgos-Robles, Anthony; Chang, Chia-Jung; Kimchi, Eyal Y.; Beyeler, Anna; Wichmann, Romy; Wildes, Craig P.; Tye, Kay M. (2018). "Dopamine enhances signal-to-noise ratio in cortical-brainstem encoding of aversive stimuli". Nature. 563 (7731): 397–401. Bibcode:2018Natur.563..397V. doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0682-1. PMC 6645392 Check |pmc= value (help). PMID 30405240.
  • Siciliano, Cody A.; Saha, Kaustuv; Calipari, Erin S.; Fordahl, Steve C.; Chen, Rong; Khoshbouei, Habibeh; Jones, Sara R. (2018). "Amphetamine Reverses Escalated Cocaine Intake via Restoration of Dopamine Transporter Conformation". The Journal of Neuroscience. 38 (2): 484–497. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2604-17.2017. ISSN 0270-6474. PMC 5761621.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Siciliano Full Interview". Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Siciliano Lab Website". Siciliano Lab. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Vanderbilt Professor, Cody Siciliano, on developing a passion and the value of community college". Once a Scientist. 2021-05-19. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Cody Siciliano's CV" (PDF). Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  5. "Jones Lab - Members". Wake Forest School of Medicine. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
  6. "Cody A Siciliano". Retrieved 2021-06-11.
  7. "Cody Siciliano, Ph.D." Tye Laboratory. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
  8. "One Brain-Based Reason Motivation Fizzles With Age | Psychology Today". Retrieved 2021-06-11.
  9. Vander Weele, Caitlin M.; Siciliano, Cody A.; Matthews, Gillian A.; Namburi, Praneeth; Izadmehr, Ehsan M.; Espinel, Isabella C.; Nieh, Edward H.; Schut, Evelien H. S.; Padilla-Coreano, Nancy; Burgos-Robles, Anthony; Chang, Chia-Jung (November 2018). "Dopamine enhances signal-to-noise ratio in cortical-brainstem encoding of aversive stimuli". Nature. 563 (7731): 397–401. Bibcode:2018Natur.563..397V. doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0682-1. ISSN 1476-4687. PMC 6645392 Check |pmc= value (help). PMID 30405240.
  10. Weele, Caitlin M. Vander; Siciliano, Cody A.; Tye, Kay M. (2019-06-15). "Dopamine tunes prefrontal outputs to orchestrate aversive processing". Brain Research. 1713: 16–31. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2018.11.044. ISSN 1872-6240. PMC 7575248 Check |pmc= value (help). PMID 30513287.
  11. Siciliano, Cody A.; Tye, Kay M. (2019-02-01). "Leveraging calcium imaging to illuminate circuit dysfunction in addiction". Alcohol. 74: 47–63. doi:10.1016/j.alcohol.2018.05.013. ISSN 0741-8329. PMC 7575247 Check |pmc= value (help). PMID 30470589.
  12. "Projects". The Siciliano Lab. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
  13. Siciliano, Cody A.; Mills, Fergil; Tye, Kay M. (2018-10-01). "Double threat in striatal dopamine signaling". Nature Neuroscience. 21 (10): 1296–1297. doi:10.1038/s41593-018-0243-9. ISSN 1546-1726. PMC 7683097 Check |pmc= value (help). PMID 30258236.
  14. G, Kashmira; EST, er On 11/22/19 at 7:38 AM (2019-11-22). "Scientists find compulsive drinking-linked brain circuit in mice, hope it could one day be used to treat alcoholism". Newsweek. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
  15. Makin, Simon. "Brain Circuit Involved in Compulsive Drinking Identified in Mice". Scientific American. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
  16. Siciliano, Cody A.; Noamany, Habiba; Chang, Chia-Jung; Brown, Alex R.; Chen, Xinhong; Leible, Daniel; Lee, Jennifer J.; Wang, Joyce; Vernon, Amanda N.; Weele, Caitlin M. Vander; Kimchi, Eyal Y. (2019-11-22). "A cortical-brainstem circuit predicts and governs compulsive alcohol drinking". Science. 366 (6468): 1008–1012. Bibcode:2019Sci...366.1008S. doi:10.1126/science.aay1186. ISSN 0036-8075. PMC 6989100 Check |pmc= value (help). PMID 31754002.
  17. Turney, Spencer. "What leads to compulsive alcohol use? With new experiments into binge drinking, researchers are finally getting answers". Vanderbilt University. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
  18. "Cody Siciliano". Forbes. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
  19. "Klerman & Freedman Prizes". Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. 2017-03-15. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
  20. Snyder, Bill. "Cohen Fund bolsters Siciliano's memory research". Vanderbilt University. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
  21. Bliss, Jessica. "Meet the Calipari who holds court at Vanderbilt lab". The Tennessean. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
  22. 22.0 22.1 MacMillan, Leigh. "New faculty: Erin Calipari, assistant professor of pharmacology". Vanderbilt University. Retrieved 2021-06-11.

External links[edit]

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