Frederic (Woody) Hopf, PhD, joined Indiana University School of Medicine faculty in 2019. His lab studies brain mechanisms that drive maladaptive behavioral health conditions, focused on alcohol addiction, anxiety and their relationship. The lab uses rat and mouse models, which allow direct investigation of how specific brain connections are important for mood dysregulations.
Dr. Hopf pursued a PhD at the Univ. of California, Berkeley, where he became deeply interested in directly measuring the activity of brain cells, and how they change for important behaviors. He became faculty at the University of California, San Francisco, and his lab has used cutting-edge methods to try to discover the critical brain signals that make behavioral health conditions so difficult to overcome.
Dr. Hopf’s original expertise is in compulsion for alcohol, when one can’t stop drinking despite bad consequences. His lab found that the anterior insula brain system, which helps identify and respond to important situations, drives compulsion in rats, and recent studies agree about the importance of this brain circuit for human problem drinking. They have expanded to understand sex and individual differences in brain systems that link bad feelings (and other drives) to excessive drinking. Part of this work is through the Indiana Alcohol Research Center, a joint human-rodent research group to identify brain mechanisms that promote the very harmful high-intensity alcohol binging.
More recently, the lab measured heart rate changes during alcohol and anxiety in rats. Their goal is to better “read” how an individual’s body responds to different relevant stimuli, to help improve and personalize behavioral health treatment.
When not working to uncover key brain mechanisms, Dr. Hopf enjoys hiking, climbing, guitar, history and hearing about the lives of his young adult children