Natalie Zlebnik

Ph.D. 2014

Current Position:

Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of California, Riverside

Previous Position(s):

Assistant Professor, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore

Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Medicine, University of Maryland - Baltimore

PhD Thesis 2014

Effects of Wheel Running on Cocaine Seeking in Rats: Behavior and Neurobiology

Undergraduate Institution and Major/Degree:

  • University of Minnesota, B.S. & B.A., Neuroscience & Physiology, 2008


Major Advisor(s):

Lab Rotations:

  • Marilyn Carroll
  • Mark Thomas
  • Robert Meisel

Courses Taken Beyond the Core Courses:

  • PSY 5012 - Learning and Cognition in Animals
  • PSY 8935 - Readings in Behavioral Genetics and Individual Differences
  • PUBH 6450 - Biostatistics I
  • PUBH 6451 - Biostatistics II
  • PHCL 8209 - Substance Abuse at the Bedside
  • PHCL 8208 - Neuropsychopharmacology
  • NSC 5462 - Neuroscience Principles of Drug Abuse
  • NSC 8026 - Neuro-immune Interactions

Conferences Attended:

  • Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, 2010, 2012, 2013
  • American Psychological Association Annual Meeting, 2012
  • College on Problems of Drug Dependence Annual Meeting 2011, 2012, 2013
  • Behavior, Biology, and Chemistry: Translational Research in Addiction, San Antonio, TX, 2011, 2012, 2013

Committee Members:

  • Robert Meisel - Chair
  • Jonathan Gewirtz
  • Bruce Overmier
  • Marilyn Carroll  - Advisor


  • Swalve N, Smethells JR, Zlebnik NE, Carroll ME. Sex differences in reinstatement of cocaine-seeking with combination treatments of progesterone and atomoxetine. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2016;145:17-23.
  • Martinez LA, Gross KS, Himmler BT, Emmitt NL, Peterson BM, Zlebnik NE, Foster Olive M, Carroll ME, Meisel RL, Mermelstein PG. Estradiol facilitation of cocaine self-administration in female rats requires activation of mGluR5. eNeuro. 2016 Oct 25;3(5).
  • Zlebnik NE, Carroll ME. Prevention of the incubation of cocaine seeking by aerobic exercise in female rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2015;232(19):3507-13.
  • Radke AK, Zlebnik NE, Holtz NA, Carroll ME. Cocaine-induced reward enhancement measured with intracranial self-stimulation in rats bred for low versus high saccharin intake. Behav Pharmacol. 2016;27(2-3 Spec Issue):133-6.
  • Zlebnik NE, Carroll ME. Effects of the combination of wheel running and atomoxetine on cue- and cocaine-primed reinstatement in rats selected for high or low impulsivity. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2015;232(6):1049-59.
  • Radke AK, Zlebnik NE, Carroll ME. Cocaine withdrawal in rats selectively bred for low (LoS) versus high (HiS) saccharin intake. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2015;129:51-5.
  • Holtz NA, Radke AK, Zlebnik NE, Harris AC, Carroll ME. Intracranial self-stimulation reward thresholds during morphine withdrawal in rats bred for high (HiS) and low (LoS) saccharin intake. Brain Res. 2015;1602:119-26.
  • Regier PS, Claxton AB, Zlebnik NE, Carroll ME. Cocaine-, caffeine-, and stress-evoked cocaine reinstatement in high vs. low impulsive rats: treatment with allopregnanolone. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2014;143:58-64.
  • Zlebnik NE, Saykao AT, Carroll ME. Effects of combined exercise and progesterone treatments on cocaine seeking in male and female rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2014;231(18):3787-98.
  • Zlebnik NE, Brimijoin S, Gao Y, Saykao AT, Parks RJ, Carroll ME. Long-term reduction of cocaine self-administration in rats treated with adenoviral vector-delivered cocaine hydrolase: evidence for enzymatic activity. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2014;39(6):1538-46
  • Zlebnik NE, Hedges VL, Carroll ME, Meisel RL. Chronic wheel running affects cocaine-induced c-Fos expression in brain reward areas in rats. Behav Brain Res. 2014;261:71-8. 
  • Carroll ME, Holtz NA, Zlebnik NE. Saccharin preference in rats:  Relation to impulsivity and comorbid drug intake, in Animal Models of Eating Disorders (Ed: Avena N), 2012; Springer: London, UK.
  • Carroll ME, Zlebnik NE, Anker JJ, Kosten TR, Orson FM, Shen X, Kinsey B, Parks RJ, Gao Y, Brimijoin S. Combined cocaine hydrolase gene transfer and anti-cocaine vaccine synergistically block cocaine-induced locomotion. PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e43536. 
  • Zlebnik NE, Anker JJ, Carroll ME. Exercise to reduce the escalation of cocaine self-administration in adolescent and adult rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2012;224(3):387-400.
  • Holtz NA, Zlebnik NE, Carroll ME. Differential orexin/hypocretin expression in addiction-prone and -resistant rats selectively bred for high (HiS) and low (LoS) saccharin intake. Neurosci Lett. 2012;522:12-15.
  • Anker JJ, Baron TR, Zlebnik NE, Carroll ME. Escalation of methamphetamine self-administration in adolescent and adult rats. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2012;124(1-2):149-53. 
  • Anker JJ, Brimijoin S, Gao Y, Geng L, Zlebnik NE, Parks RJ, Carroll ME. Cocaine hydrolase encoded in viral vector blocks the reinstatement of cocaine seeking in rats for 6 months. Biol Psychiatry. 2012;71(8):700-5.
  • Anker JJ, Zlebnik NE, Navin SF, Carroll ME. Responding during signaled availability and nonavailability of iv cocaine and food in rats: age and sex differences. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2011;215(4):785-99.
  • Anker JJ, Zlebnik NE, Carroll ME. Differential effects of allopregnanolone on the escalation of cocaine self-administration and sucrose intake in female rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2010 Oct;212(3):419-29.
  • Zlebnik NE, Anker JJ, Gliddon LA, Carroll ME. Reduction of extinction and reinstatement of cocaine seeking by wheel running in female rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2010 Mar;209(1):113-25.
  • Anker JJ, Zlebnik NE, Gliddon LA, Carroll ME. Performance under a Go/No-go task in rats selected for high and low impulsivity with a delay-discounting procedure. Behav Pharmacol. 2009 Sep;20(5-6):406-14.
  • Anker JJ, Holtz NA, Zlebnik N, Carroll ME. Effects of allopregnanolone on the reinstatement of cocaine-seeking behavior in male and female rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2009;203:63-72.

Awards and Honors:

  • 2014 NIDA Director's Travel Award
  • F31 Ruth Kirschstein NRSA: Exercise for Treatment of Relapse: Behavior and Neurobiology, 2013
  • Richard Poppele Prize for Research Independence and Excellence, 2013
  • NIDA Women and Sex/Gender Junior Investigator Travel Award for CPDD 2013
  • APA Annual Meeting 2012, Div. 3 Experimental Psychology Honorable Mention Poster Presentation
  • 2012 Milne-Brandenburg Award for an Early Graduate Career First-Author Publication
  • Behavior, Biology, and Chemistry: Translational Research in Addiction Travel Award, 2011, 2012, 2013
  • Stark Award for Advanced Scholarship, 2011

Professional Memberships:

  • Society for Neuroscience
  • American Psychological Association
  • College on Problems of Drug Dependence
  • MN Academy of Sciences

Home Town:

  • Chisholm, MN
Natalie Zlebnik