Nicole L. Zabik, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Nicole (“Nikki”) L. Zabik, PhD is a postdoctoral research associate in the Emotional Neuroscience Laboratory, led by Dr. Jennifer Blackford, in the Munroe-Meyer Institute at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Dr. Zabik received her PhD in Translational Neuroscience from Wayne State University, supported by a National Institute of Mental Health Predoctoral Training Award (F31).
During her doctoral training, Dr. Zabik investigated how avoidance behaviors may impact fear responses and fear neurocircuitry in adults with PTSD. Additionally, she determined that exogenous cannabinoids (i.e., THC) may be a suitable treatment adjunct for those with PTSD, as it can dampen fear behaviors and fear-related neural activation. At the Munroe-Meyer Institute, Dr. Zabik continues her cutting-edge research interests. She is currently leading a project to investigate anxiety-related avoidance behaviors in adults who are in early abstinence from alcohol use disorder.
- PhD, Wayne State University, School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan, 2022
- BS, Oakland University, Rochester Hills, Michigan, 2016
Lectures on fear neurocircuitry, PTSD, endocannabinoid function, and science communication.
Special/Research Interests and Projects
- Neurobiology of posttraumatic stress disorder and alcohol use disorder
- Role of the endocannabinoid system on stress and fear responding
- Role of avoidance behaviors in risk and development of affective disorders
- Translational models of fear and anxiety
Selected Publications (within the last 5 years)
- Zabik, N.L., Iadipaolo, A., Peters, C., Marusak, H.A., Rabinak, C.A. “Comparison of behavioral and brain indices of fear renewal during a standard vs. novel immersive reality Pavlovian fear extinction paradigm in healthy adults.” Behavioral Brain Research, 2023, doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2022.114154.
- Zabik, N.L., Iadipaolo, A., Marusak, H.A., Peters, C., Burghardt, K., Rabinak, C.A. “A common genetic variant in fatty acid amide hydrolase is linked to alterations in fear extinction neural circuitry in a racially diverse sample of clinically healthy adults.” Journal of Neuroscience Research, 2021, doi.org/10.1002/jnr.24860.
- Rabinak, C.A., Blanchette, A., Zabik N.L.,… “Cannabinoid modulation of corticolimbic activation to threat in trauma-exposed adults: a preliminary study.” Psychopharmacology, 2020, doi.org/10.1007/s00213-020-05499-8.
- Gordon Research Seminar: Cannabinoids in the CNS Presenter Travel Award (2021)
- Society of Biological Psychiatry Predoctoral Award (2020)
- International Cannabinoid Research Society Travel Award (2019)
- Graduate Student Professional Travel Award, Wayne State University (2018)
- Robert J. Bernucci Promising Scholar Award (presented by faculty to the student who demonstrates outstanding academic and research achievement), Wayne State University (2017)