Adrienn Varga, PhD

Hometown: Budapest, Hungary


Year I became a Gator: 2017

Department: COM Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics

Mentor: Erica Levitt, PhD

Research focus: Our lab studies the role of opioid-sensitive respiratory neurons in the brain in both normal breathing and under the influence of opioids. We are also looking for potential therapeutic targets to combat respiratory depression in opioid overdoses.

What drives me: Curiosity and the motivation to make a difference.

What I like most about the BREATHE Training Program: There are so many formal and informal gatherings, presentations and journal clubs that are scientifically invigorating and bring all the respiratory experts at (and outside of) UF together on a regular basis. Thanks to the Center and the BREATHE Training Program, trainees can interact with basic and translational scientists, clinical researchers, as well as physicians. This collaborative environment has a huge impact on our career development – it gave me a new appreciation and better foundation for translational research. Additionally, trainee lunches and socials with invited speakers offer unique opportunities to meet and have meaningful interactions with leading experts in the respiratory field.

Awards & achievements since being on the T32: I have attended several local and national conferences and workshops, and published multiple papers since becoming a BREATHE trainee. I have given multiple invited talks, and even had the honor to speak at a major HHS/NIH/NIAID trans-agency opioid meeting among leading experts in the respiratory and opioid fields. I have also received multiple awards for my work supported by my mentor, Dr. Erica Levitt and the BREATHE T32. In 2018 I received a poster presentation award at the UF Neuromuscular Plasticity Symposium, in 2019 I received an APS Respiration Section poster presentation award at the Experimental Biology conference and in 2020 I won first place at the NCF Society for Neuroscience Conference’s postdoctoral poster competition.

What I like about Gainesville: I love that we are surrounded by nature wherever we go and Gainesville has so many outdoor activities to offer.

Why I chose BREATHE at the University of Florida: At the time of my application to the BREATHE Training Program I was already involved in many CRRR activities. I chose the program for the additional mentoring and career development opportunities.

What makes the BREATHE Training Program unique? There are so many things that make the BREATHE Training Program unique and exceptional. The program provides trainees with a strong foundation in all aspects of respiratory research (through coursework, invited speaker seminars, data blitzes, journal clubs, social & science events, etc.). By assigning a clinical mentor to basic science trainees and vice versa, we all get a more comprehensive understanding of respiratory research and a better foundation to tackle respiratory disorders. Additionally, regular BREATHE career development workshops and one-on-one discussions with our mentors really prepare us for a successful future as independent scientists.

What I do for fun: My husband and I try to spend most of our free time with our two dogs. We also enjoy riding our bikes, going to the beach or kayak-fishing on the weekends.