About Us 


The CONA (Colorado Neuromodulation of Addiction) Lab at the University of Colorado seeks to test novel treatments such as deep brain stimulation (DBS) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), among other approaches. Our inter-disciplinary research team utilizes project-specific cross-departmental collaborations (e.g., Neurosurgery, Neuroscience, Neurology, Neuroradiology and Psychiatry) to develop novel treatment protocols. The overarching goal is to identify new, high effect size treatments in service of better helping individuals with substance use disorders.


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To learn more about DBS, please watch this video:




Our Team



Joseph Sakai graduated from Pomona College (’93), Tulane Medical School (’97 with honors) and completed Psychiatry residency (’01) and Addiction Psychiatry fellowship (’03) training at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Dr. Sakai has been an active clinician treating adolescents and adults with substance use disorder(s) for more than 15 years and has conducted research throughout his career serving as PI/MPI for multiple NIDA grants (K, R01, R25, UG3) and Co-I on multiple NIDA and NIAAA grants. Dr. Sakai has also been active in medical education throughout his career, serving as the Director of Medical Student Education for the Department of Psychiatry, the Director of the Psychiatry Residency’s Research Track, and an Associate Director of the Developmental Psychobiology Research Group’s Post-doctoral research fellowship program. He has previously served as the Associate Program Director of the clinical Addiction Psychiatry fellowship.  

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Jody Tanabe received her undergraduate degree from the University of California Davis (UC Davis) and medical degree from UC San Diego. She completed a diagnostic radiology residency at Cornell-NY Hospital and a Neuroradiology fellowship at UCSF. Dr. Tanabe is Professor and Chief of Neuroradiology at the University of Colorado where she has spent most of her career. She uses brain imaging to study neural mechanisms underlying substance use disorders and has served as PI for multiple NIDA grants (K, R21, R01, and UG3). Dr. Tanabe has several leadership roles at the American Society of Neuroradiology, Am Society of Functional Neuroradiology, and the Neuroradiology committee for the American College of Radiology.  She previously served as the Vice Chair for research in the Department of Radiology.  

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Dr. Aviva Abosch completed her undergraduate degree at Bryn Mawr College, followed by an M.D. and Ph.D. (Neuroscience) at the University of Pittsburgh, neurosurgery residency at the University of California, San Francisco, and fellowship training in Epilepsy Surgery at the Montreal Neurological Institute, and in Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto. 

Dr. Abosch was previously on faculty at Emory University, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Colorado-Anschutz Medical Campus—where she was Vice Chair for Research in Neurosurgery. Since 2019, she has been a tenured Professor and Chair of the Neurosurgery Department at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), and holder of the Nancy A. Keegan and Donald R. Voelte, Jr. Chair in Neurosurgery. She is also Co-Director of the Clinical Neurosciences Service Line, Director of the UNMC/Nebraska Medicine Functional, Epilepsy, and Stereotactic Surgery Program, and Director of the Fellowship Training Program in Functional, Epilepsy, and Stereotactic Surgery at UNMC.

Dr. Abosch is a Past-President of the American Society of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery (ASSFN) and Women in Neurosurgery (WINS), and currently serves as a Member-at-Large of the Board of Directors of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), and as an Examiner for the American Board of Neurological Surgeons (ABNS). She was formerly a member of the Editorial Boards of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery, Neurosurgery, and the Journal of Neurosurgery. She speaks nationally and internationally on her areas of clinical and research expertise. Her research in neuromodulation is funded through intramural, industry, and governmental sources, including a UH3 BRAIN Initiative award through NINDS for the study of sleep in Parkinson’s Disease. 



Kristen Raymond is a Clinical Research Services Program Manager in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Kristen received her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology with a minor in biology (summa cum laude) from the University of Colorado. She has also completed graduate-level coursework in assessment, biostatistics, epidemiology, bioethics, and research methods. Over the years Kristen has worked on over 30 different research studies with various investigators in Colorado and nationwide. Her expertise includes all phases of project management, post-award research administration, supervision, and the regulatory aspects of research. Kristen’s research interests have encompassed many aspects of addiction including diagnostic and neuropsychological assessment, personality, genetics, proteomics, neuroimaging, ethics, and pain management after surgery. She is a co-author on over 25 peer-reviewed publications in these areas.




Pamela David Gerecht is a Research Services Senior Professional in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. She completed her undergraduate degree in science from the University of British Columbia, followed by a Master of Science degree (University of Calgary) and Ph.D. (Queen’s University, Kingston) in Biochemistry. After a career in academic science at the University of Helsinki, CU Boulder, and CU AMC she joined the clinical research team in the Department of Neurosurgery where she has worked for the last 9 years in the areas of Movement Disorders and Epilepsy. Pamela manages multiple aspects of numerous clinical trials, both industry sponsored, and investigator initiated. She also interacts with patients who are candidates for Deep Brain Stimulation surgery for Movement Disorders and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder preoperatively, intraoperatively and postoperatively.




Melina Kilen is a Research Services Professional in the Translational Addiction Imaging Laboratory and the Colorado Neuromodulation of Addiction Lab in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Melina graduated from King’s College London in May 2022 with a BSc in Psychology, where she studied attitudes towards psychedelic-assisted therapy for her dissertation and wrote a thesis on the mental health trends of individuals who identify as multi-racial. Melina’s current research interests include substance use disorder, trauma, mental health marginalization among minority communities, and the interplay of psychedelic drugs in therapeutic settings.  






Colorado Neuromodulation of Addiction




Contact Us 

Lab Phone Number: 303-724-5400

Lab Email: Cona.lab@cuanschutz.edu


Joseph Sakai, MD

Phone: 303-724-7402

Email: joseph.sakai@cuanschutz.edu


Kristen Raymond, BA

Phone: 303-724-3196

Email: kristen.raymond@cuanschutz.edu



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Psychiatry (SOM)

CU Anschutz

Anschutz Health Sciences Building

1890 N Revere Ct

Suite 4003

Mail Stop F546

Aurora, CO 80045


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