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Flores Lab Members

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Giovanni Hernandez

Project Manager/Senior Research Associate Ph.D. Psychology – Concordia University, 2010

MSc Organizational Psychology – Universidad Simon Bolivar, 2003 MSc Psychology Behavioral Analysis – Universidad Central de Venezuela, 2002

Giovanni’s main interests lie in the elucidation of the neurobiological circuit underlying decision-making.

He graduated from Universidad Católica Andrés Bello (Caracas, Venezuela) with a B.S in Psychology in 1997 and then did two master’s degrees, one in Organizational Psychology and another in Behavior Analysis. He received his Ph.D. from Concordia University under the direction of Prof. Peter Shizgal; his graduate research focused on the role of dopamine in decision-making.  During his postdoctoral studies at the University of Maryland under the advice of Joseph Cheer, he studied how modulation of the dopaminergic system by the endocannabinoid system alters goal-directed behavior. At the Université de Montreal, under the advice of Pierre-Paul Rompré and Daniel Levesque, Giovanni identified an NMDA receptor (GluN2C) responsible for the relay of the reward signal in the ventral tegmental area.  He is now studying the development of dopamine neurons during adolescence and the effect of early-life exposure to cannabinoids. He has extensive experience using in-vivo techniques (Fast-scan cyclic voltammetry, electrophysiology, microdialysis, fiber photometry, optogenetics) to correlate behavioral outputs with brain circuitry.


Dominique Nouel - Feb 11, 2022


Lab and Project Coordinator


Ph.D Neuroscience, Université de Rouen, France
M.Sc. Biologie et Physiologie, Université de Rouen, France B.Sc. Biochimie, Université de Rouen, France


In memory of 

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Jose Maria Restrepo


PhD Student (Co-supervised by

Dr. Patricia Pelufo Silveira)

B.A. Honours in Psychology [Distinction],

Concordia University, 2016

One of my research interests focuses on understanding whether and how exposure to different drugs during adolescence affect ongoing brain development. During the first years of my graduate studies, I investigated the effects of different doses of amphetamine during adolescence, and how this exposure impacts: (1) behaviors that depend on proper prefrontal cortex functioning, and (2) the expression of genes that coordinate adolescent neurodevelopment and synaptic plasticity. 


After I fast-tracked into the PhD program, we started a collaboration with Dr. Patricia Pelufo Silveira to translate our studies in rodent models to humans, trying to bring together perspectives from developmental neurobiology and systems genetics. I use a wide range of bioinformatics methods to study the relationship between variations in expression of gene networks and mesocorticolimbic dopamine development. 


Alice Morgunova

PhD Candidate

McGill IPN Rotation Student, 2017–2018

Postbaccalaureate – National Institute of Drug Abuse, 2017

B.A. – Molecular, Cellular, and Behavioral Neuroscience; Hampshire College, 2016

I am interested in dissecting the differences between healthy and pathological brains across the lifetime. My current project is examining how adolescent vulnerability to psychopathology is influenced by the expression of a particular microRNA in the medial prefrontal cortex. MicroRNAs have been shown to be promising markers for certain conditions and the goal of my research is to identify a biomarker signature for major depressive disorder and schizophrenia.

In addition, I am collaborating with Dr. Patricia Sliveira’s lab to investigate polygenetic expression of netrin-1 family genes and their networks in healthy human development.

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Ashraf Mahmud

Ph.D. Student

MA in Psychology (Research and Clinical Option), Concordia University

B.Sc. Specialization in Psychology [Distinction], Concordia University

Depression is a chronic disabling disorder, often precipitated by stress. Altered expression of the Netrin-1/DCC pathway in the prefrontal cortex is tightly linked to major depressive disorder in humans and to susceptibility to stress-induced behavioral abnormalities in mice. My research goal is to identify how the Netrin-1/DCC pathway in the prefrontal cortex modulates vulnerability/resilience to stress and to decipher the precise neural circuitries involved. I use the chronic social defeat stress model in male and female mice and combine anatomical methods and genetic strategies. In my spare time I write poetry.


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Maxime Teixeira

Ph.D. Student

M.Sc. Neuroscience, Université de Bordeaux, France (2021)

B.Sc. Pharmacology, Université Clermont Auvergne, France (2019)

B. Tech. Applied Science Université Clermont Auvergne, France (2018)


Since the beginning of my studies in higher education, I have been interested in pharmacology and addiction, as well as the long-term effects of childhood trauma. These interests led me to Dr. Cecilia Flores' lab. Here, I investigate miR-218 as a potential biomarker but also as a therapeutic target in mice, with the ultimate goal of improving the management of patients suffering from amphetamine addiction. More specifically, I investigate if the level of miR-218 found in blood, as well as other biomarkers, can predict the long-term effects of amphetamine use during adolescence.

Chi Zhang 

Research Assistant 

BSc. - Honors Cognitive Science,

McGill University, 2023

I am interested in the underlying neurobiological mechanisms of reinforcement learning and behaviours, at both the circuitry and cellular levels. Substance abuse and stress are excellent models for studying the maladaptations of such mechanisms. I am currently working on a project investigating the sex-specific effects of social defeat in adolescence, particularly dopaminergic axon growth and behavioural inhibition. My continued interest in research leads me to the pursuit of a graduate program in neuroscience in the near future.



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Samuel Richer

M.Sc. Student 

McGill IPN, 2020-2022

B.Sc. – Physiology; McGill University, 2017-2020

After birth, the brain is a much more dynamic and vulnerable organ than many make it seem. Long distance dopaminergic axonal migration to the prefrontal cortex is still occurring in the adolescent brain. I want to understand how experiences in adolescence, particularly stress or exposure to drugs of abuse, impact dopamine axonal growth and adult cognitive and reward processing. My research project is focused on the role of axonal guidance cues and their cognate receptors and involves the combination of behavioral testing and calcium imaging methods in male and female mice.

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Tanya Capolicchio

M.Sc. Student

B.Sc. Honours Psychology with a

specialization in Behavioural Neuroscience



The focus of my current research is to expand on our current knowledge of cannabis-induced psychosis. Specifically, the aim of this research is to investigate the impact of THC exposure during adolescence and how that impacts neuroinflammatory processes in mice and

in interaction with genetic biomarkers. More precisely, investigating if and how THC affects brain development andcognitive function via microRNA regulation of gene expression. If I am not in thelab I’m cooking and eating, or on a mountain (also eating).

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Sehar Gul

Research Assistant

B.A. Psychology [Distinction], Concordia University (2020)

B.Sc. Anthropology, University of Toronto (2016)


After graduating from the University of Toronto Mississauga with an Honours BSc in Anthropology, I became increasingly interested in mental health, which led me to pursue a BA in Psychology from Concordia University. Currently, I am interested in the neurobiological mechanism underlying stress and how that can result in increasing vulnerability to develop psychiatric disorders. 


Fatima Abboud


M.Sc. Neuroscience, McGill University (2023)

B.Sc. Neuroscience-Statistics, University of Guelph (2021)


Through my B.Sc. and M.Sc. studies in neuroscience, I became increasingly interested in the early identification of the neural correlates of psychological and cognitive outcomes in at-risk youth. In my role at the Flores Lab, I collaborate with fellow team members to design and implement tailored statistical analysis workflows for various projects, including miRNA sequencing and dendritic spine analysis. 


Radu Gabriel Avramescu

Postdoctoral Fellow

MD CM, McGill University, 2022

BSc Honours in Physiology [First Class Honours], 2013


I am interested in adolescent mental illness, which includes bullying and stress, as well as substance use disorders and the impact of adolescent substance use on functioning in adult life. Due to my background in both biochemistry and medicine, my research is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms underpinning stress and substance use, with the intention of improving clinical treatment.


Daniel Lombardi

M.Sc. Student.

B.Sc. Neuroscience, National Autonomous University of Mexico, 2022.

My main interest is understanding the neurobiological impact of drug abuse when initiated during adolescence and its consequences throughout the lifespan. My ongoing project explores the alterations in the transcriptome of resilient and vulnerable socially defeated mice, both males and females, subjected to adolescent social stress.

Members Lab Pictures

Lab Alumni

PDF                           Years

Daniel Hoops                      2016-2019   

Santiago Cuesta                   2015-2018

Esther Del Cid                      2015-2016

Michael Verwey                    2011-2016

Colleen Manitt                      2009-2014 

Cassandre Labelle-Dumais      2006-2009 

Graduate Students:

Student          Degree     Years

Andrea Pantoja        Ph.D.       2017 -2022 

Christina Popescu     M.Sc.       2018 -2020 

Daniel Vosberg         Ph.D.       2015 -2018

Sandra Yogendran    M.Sc.      2013 - 2015 

Lauren Reynolds        Ph.D.     2012 - 2018

Angelica Torres       Ph.D.      2012 - 2017 

Matthew Pokinko     M.Sc.     2012 - 2014

Mark Daubaras.       M.Sc.      2010 - 2012

Conrad Eng.           M.Sc.    2010 - 2012

Meagan Auger        M.Sc.    2010 - 2012

Jessica Argento        M.Sc.    2009 - 2011

Alanna Grant          Ph.D      2007 - 2011 

Leora Yetnikoff          Ph.D       2007 - 2011  

Alanna Grant          M.Sc       2005 - 2007 

Leora Yetnikoff        M.Sc       2005 - 2007 

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