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Francesco Versace, Ph.D.

Present Title & Affiliation

Primary Appointment

Assistant Professor, Department of Behavioral Science, Division of OVP, Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Bio Statement

Dr. Francesco Versace is an experimental psychologist. As a Ph.D. student, he worked on cognitive psychophysiology and methodology of scientific research. As a post-doctoral research associate at the NIMH Center for the Study of Emotion and Attention at the University of Florida, Dr. Versace refined his expertise in affective neuroscience conducting experiments investigating the physiological correlates of emotional imagery and memory, using both dense sensor array EEG and functional MRI.

His current line of research at the U.T. MD Anderson Cancer Center focuses on the psychophysiology and psychopharmacology of nicotine addiction. In particular, he is working on experiments aimed at studying, by means of dense sensor array event related potentials (ERPs) and functional MRI, the relationships between cognitive and emotional processes and the maintenance of smoking behavior, cessation, and relapse.

Education & Training

Degree-Granting Education

2003 University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy, PHD, Experimental Psychology
1997 University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy, Laurea, Psychology

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Original Research Articles

1. Meyer MJ, Coull BA, Versace F, Cinciripini PM, Morris JS. Bayesian Function-on-Function Regression for Multilevel Functional Data. Biometrics. Biometrics. In Press.
2. Cui Y, Versace F, Engelmann JM, Minnix JA, Robinson JD, Lam CY, Karam-Hage M, Brown VL, Wetter DW, Dani JA, Kosten TR, Cinciripini PM. Alpha oscillations in response to affective and cigarette-related stimuli in smokers. Nicotine Tobacco Research 15(5):917-24, 5/2013. e-Pub 10/2012. PMCID: PMC3621581.
3. Cinciripini PM, Robinson JD, Karam-Hage M, Minnix JA, Lam C, Versace F, Brown VL, Engelmann JM, Wetter DW. Effects of varenicline and bupropion sustained-release use plus intensive smoking cessation counseling on prolonged abstinence from smoking and on depression, negative affect, and other symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. JAMA Psychiatry 70(5):522-533, 5/2013. PMCID: PMC4128024.
4. Versace F, Lam CY, Engelmann JM, Robinson JD, Minnix JA, Brown VL, Cinciripini PM. Beyond cue reactivity: Blunted brain responses to pleasant stimuli predict long-term smoking abstinence. Addiction Biology 17(6):991-1000, 11/2012. e-Pub 10/2011. PMCID: PMC3252422.
5. Cui Y, Robinson JD, Versace F, Lam CY, Minnix JA, Karam-Hage M, Dani JA, Kosten TR, Wetter DW, Brown VL, Cinciripini PM. Differential cigarette-related startle cue reactivity among light, moderate, and heavy smokers. Addictive Behaviors 37(8):885-9, 8/2012. e-Pub 2/2012. PMCID: PMC3358408.
6. Lam CY, Robinson JD, Versace F, Minnix JA, Cui Y, Carter BL, Wetter DW, Cinciripini PM. Affective reactivity during smoking cessation of never-quitters as compared with that of abstainers, relapsers, and continuing smokers. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology 20(2):139-50, 4/2012. e-Pub 10/2011. PMCID: PMC3381955.
7. Engelmann JM, Versace F, Robinson JD, Minnix JA, Lam CY, Cui Y, Brown VL, Cinciripini PM. Neural substrates of smoking cue reactivity: A meta-analysis of fMRI studies. NeuroImage 60(1):252-262, 3/2012. e-Pub 12/2011. PMCID: PMC3288122.
8. Versace F, Engelmann JM, Jackson EF, Costa VD, Robinson JD, Lam CY, Minnix JA, Brown VL, Wetter DW, Cinciripini PM. Do brain responses to emotional images and cigarette cues differ? An fMRI study in smokers. The European Journal of Neuroscience 34(12):2054-63, 12/2011. e-Pub 11/2011. PMCID: PMC3237919.
9. Versace F, Minnix JA, Robinson JD, Lam CY, Brown VL, Cinciripini PM. Brain reactivity to emotional, neutral, and cigarette-related stimuli in smokers. Addiction Biology 16(2):296-307, 4/2011. e-Pub 12/2010. PMCID: PMC3058803.
10. Lang PJ, Wangelin BC, Bradley MM, Versace F, Davenport PW, Costa VD. Threat of suffocation and defensive reflex activation. Psychophysiology 48(3):393-6, 3/2011. e-Pub 7/2010. PMID: 20667037.
11. Robinson JD, Lam CY, Carter BL, Minnix JA, Cui Y, Versace F, Wetter DW, Cinciripini PM. A multimodal approach to assessing the impact of nicotine dependence, nicotine abstinence, and craving on negative affect in smokers. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology 19(1):40-52, 2/2011. PMCID: PMC3384685.

Grant & Contract Support

Title: Neurobiological substrates of imminent smoking: A missing link in cue reactivity, Co-Mentor (no salary)
Funding Source: NIH/NCI
Role: Co-Mentor
Principal Investigator: Jeffrey Engelmann
Duration: 6/1/2013 - 5/31/2018
Title: Identifying topiramate's therapeutic mechanisms through motivational salience, Co-Mentor (no salary)
Funding Source: NIH/NIDA
Role: Co-Investigator
Principal Investigator: Jason Robinson
Duration: 9/1/2012 - 8/31/2017

Last updated: 8/27/2015