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Brianna Sheppard, PhD

Program Coordinator, West Virginia University Institute for Community and Rural Health

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, WVU School of Public Health


PhD, Translational Psychology, East Tennessee State University

MA, Psychology, East Tennessee State University

Focus Areas

Rural health disparities, Appalachia health disparities, pain conditions, substance abuse


I grew up in rural Oakwood, located in Buchanan County, Virginia and completed a BS in Psychology from the University of Virginia’s College at Wise in 2006 and a MA in Psychology from East Tennessee State University in 2008. After a two-year position as an associate research assistant for HepatoSys, Inc, a small biomedical research company working to improve liver preservation and transplant, I went back to graduate school at Kansas State University from 2010-2012. In, 2012, I transferred back to ETSU when my major professor took a job at the university to start the help start a new PhD concentration in experimental psychology. I completed my doctorate in 2014 with specific training in behavioral neuroscience as well as identifying and addressing rural health disparities in Appalachia. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Pain Research at the University of Pittsburgh, I started at WVU as the Program Coordinator for the Institute for Community and Rural Health in 2015. My research program focuses on of understanding the relationships between motivation, substance abuse and pain conditions and using this information to improve well-being and quality of life for rural residents. I am a member of the West Virginia Rural Health Association Board of Directors and policy committee, West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute, National Rural Health Association, American Pain Society, and International Association for the Study of Pain and am the faculty advisor for WVU’s Rural Health Interest Group.

Sample Publications

  • Palmatier, M. I., Kellicut, M. R., Sheppard, A. B., Brown, R. W., & Robinson, D. L. (2014). The incentive amplifying effects of nicotine are attenuated by selective and nonselective dopamine antagonists in rats. Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior, 126, 50-62. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2014.08.012
  • Palmatier, M. I., Marks, K. R., Jones, S. A, Freeman, K. S., Wissman, K. M., & Sheppard, A. B. (2013). The effect of nicotine on sign-tracking and goal-tracking in a Pavlovian conditioned approach paradigm in rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl.), 226, 247-259. doi: 10.1007/s00213-012-2892-9 
  • Sheppard, A. B. Gross, S.C., Pavelka, S.A., Hall, M.J., & Palmatier, M.I. (2012). Caffeine increases the motivation to obtain non-drug reinforcers in rats. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 124, 216-222. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2012.01.008 
  • Brown, R. W., Hughes, B. A., Hughes, A. B., Sheppard, A. B., Perna, M. K., Ragsdale, W. L., Roeding, R. L., & Pond, B. B. (2012). Sex and dose-related differences in methylphenidate adolescent locomotor sensitization and effects on BDNF. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 26, 1480-1488. doi:10.1177/0269881112454227    
  • Brown, R. W., Maple, A. M., Perna, M. K, Sheppard, A. B., Cope, Z. A. & Kostrzewa, R. M. (2012). Schizophrenia and substance abuse comorbidity: nicotine addiction and the neonatal quinpirole model. Developmental Neuroscience, 34, 140-151. doi: 10.1159/000338830     
  • Cope, Z.A., Huggins, K.N., Sheppard, A.B., Noel, D.M., Roane, D.S., & Brown, R.W. (2010). Neonatal quinpirole treatment enhances locomotor activation and dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens core in response to amphetamine treatment in adulthood. Synapse, 64, 289-300. doi: 10.1002/syn.20729
  • Sheppard A. B., Lehmann, J., Cope, Z.A. & Brown, R.W. (2009). Sex differences in nicotine sensitization and conditioned hyperactivity in adolescent rats neonatally treated with quinpirole: role of D2 and D3 receptor subtypes. Behavioral Neuroscience, 123, 1296-1308. doi: 10.1037/a0017536
  • Correll, J.A., Noel, D. M., Sheppard, A.B., Thompson, K.N., Li, Y., Yin, D., & Brown, R.W. (2009). Nicotine sensitization and analysis of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in adolescent β arrestin-2 knockout mice. Synapse, 63, 510-519. doi: 10.1002/syn.20625

Contact Info

1 Medical Center Drive
PO Box 9009
Morgantown, WV 26506
(304) 293-1444
Fax: (304) 293-8764