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Sonya Krishna Sobrian, Ph.D. (She/Her)



Dr. Sonya K. Sobrian is an Associate Professor of Pharmacology at the Howard University College of Medicine and Director of the Developmental Neurobehavioral Pharmacology Laboratory. Dr. Sobrian is immediate past Chair of the University's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), is also a recent former Chair of the Faculty Senate, and the Faculty Grievance Commission.   Dr. Sobrian received her Ph.D. in Physiological Psychology from Carleton University in Ottawa Canada and was a postdoctoral fellowship at Princeton University in Developmental Neurobiology.  She added pharmacology and immunology to her graduate training.  The major focus of her research involves the behavioral, immunological and neurotoxicological consequences of prenatal/developmental exposure to stress, environmental toxicants, and drugs of abuse.  She has a long-standing interest in sex differences, and her lab was the first to show that prenatal environmental and psychological stress differentially altered immune parameters in rat male and female offspring, research that she continued as a Fulbright Scholar at the Immunological Research Center in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. For her work on a neurodevelopmental animal model of depression, Dr. Sobrian was designated a L. Vernon Maddox NARSAD investigator. She was also the recipient of the AAAS Science and Engineering Congressional Fellowship, which allowed her to work on legislative issues involving the elderly, adoption by military personnel, and alcohol, as well as NIH funding issues.

Additional research has focused on the life-span consequences of prenatal exposure to cocaine and nicotine, alone and in combination, with an emphasis on drug addiction in the aging organism.  As a visiting scientist at the National Center for Toxicological Research in Arkansas, Dr. Sobrian was instrumental in establishing a prenatal model of cocaine toxicity.  Dr. Sobrian has also explored the role of prenatal environmental noise stress (PENS) in the etiology of autism and depression.   Currently her research involves the multi- and trans- generational inheritance of addiction-like behaviors following prenatal exposure to synthetic cannabinoids.  Her teaching focuses on CNS pharmacology and toxicology of CNS therapeutics used to neuropsychiatric dysfunction, neurodegenerative diseases, special populations (fetal and geriatric), drug abuse and substance use disorders. In additional she teaches experimental design, biostatistics, and technical writing skills.  During her tenure at the College of Medicine, Dr. Sobrian has successfully academically mentored medical, pharmacy, and graduate and undergraduate students, whom she has also involved in developmental neurotoxicological research.  Moreover, as a former AAAS Science and Technology Fellow and Fulbright Research Scholar, she has served on fellowship selection committees for both organizations.

 Dr. Sobrian has served as Director of the Behavioral Neuroscience Program at the National Science Foundation, and Chair of the Board of Trustees of AAALAC International. She has been President of the Developmental Neurotoxicology Society [formerly Neurobehavioral Teratology Society], and currently serves as Section Editor for Developmental Neurotoxicology of that society’s scientific journal, Neurotoxicology and Teratology, and is Co-Special editor of a Special Issue on “Developmental Stress”; she was formerly Guest Editor of a Special Issue of NTT on “Developmental Marijuana”.

Dr. Sobrian was formerly on the Board of Scientific Counselors for the Department of Health & Human Services National Toxicology Program, and currently is a member of the External Advisory Committee of the NIH-funded Toxicology Mentoring and Skills Development Training Program [ToxMSDT], as well as the    Delaware State University/University of Delaware COBRE Grant to develop neuroscience in the state.

Dr. Sobrian has also served on many governmental, foundation and organizational review panels and committees.  She is a current member  of the EPA Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act Scientific Advisory Panel ,and a member of the NIH Neurological, Mental and Behavioral Health study section.