Staff Profile: Steven T. Pittenger

Steven T. Pittenger, Ph.D.

Program Officer

Office of Drug Development Partnership Programs

National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences

National Institutes of Health

Email Steven T. Pittenger


Steven Pittenger serves as a program officer for the Helping to End Addiction Long-termSM Initiative, or NIH HEAL InitiativeSM, within the Office of Drug Development Partnership Programs. In this capacity, he is responsible for assisting in the evaluation, implementation and management of collaborative projects that focus on (1) developing new testing platforms that more closely model human biology than currently available cell and animal models, using induced pluripotent stem cells, tissue chips and 3-D tissue bioprinting; (2) identifying and de-risking potential therapies that work in novel ways through assays and high-throughput screening to select and develop compounds that show promise as potential drugs; (3) accelerating the identification of promising chemical structures and developing them into pharmacological or drug-like compounds; and (4) advancing promising new drug candidates through rigorous preclinical efficacy and safety studies for first-in-human clinical trials, as required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Pittenger is involved in several additional initiatives at NCATS, including the Small Business Innovation Research program.

Prior to joining NCATS as a scientific program manager in 2018, Pittenger was a postdoctoral fellow working under the supervision of Marina Picciotto, Ph.D., at the Yale School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, examining the role of cholinergic modulation of the basolateral amygdala GABAergic microcircuit in adaptive and maladaptive behavioral responses to stress. He obtained his master’s degree and doctorate in psychology from the University of Nebraska in 2016 under the guidance of Rick Bevins, Ph.D. His graduate research focused on examining the biological mechanisms underlying methamphetamine relapse. Pittenger has authored more than 20 peer-reviewed manuscripts.

Research Topics

Pittenger develops and manages collaborative research projects with academic and industry partners to apply breakthrough approaches in translational science to advance new treatments for pain, addiction and overdose.

Selected Publications

  1. The Effect of Switching Pharmacological Intervention During Extinction on Nicotine-Evoked Conditioned Responding in Rats
  2. The Effects of Varenicline on Methamphetamine Self-Administration and Drug-Primed Reinstatement in Female Rats
  3. Sex Differences in Neurotensin and Substance P Following Nicotine Self-Administration in Rats
  4. Bidirectional Regulation of Aggression in Mice by Hippocampal Alpha-7 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors
  5. MicroRNA Cluster miR199a/214 Are Differentially Expressed in Female and Male Rats Following Nicotine Self-Administration