Kelvin Tran

 Kelvin Tran
Mentor: Dr. Marcelo Febo
College of Medicine
"When I first started doing research, my principal goal was to gain the experience of the application of my scientific knowledge. Now, this goal has sprouted after all of my time spent in the labs at McKnight Brain Institute thus far. The challenges that I have encountered have helped me expand my scientific thinking and grow as an individual. My involvement with my research is reinforced by my admiration and curiosity about translational science and the neuroscience of drug addictions. I am very honored to be accepted into the University Scholars Program, which is a great opportunity for me to further challenge myself."


Business Administration, General Studies


Information Systems and Operations Management

Research Interests

  • Neurobiology of Drug Addictions
  • Translational Science
  • Pharmacology

Academic Awards

  • Rotary Club Gator Scholarship
  • Presidential Service Award
  • ACES Outstanding Member Award
  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Honorary Award


  • Golden Key International Honors Society
  • Gators for Haven Hospice
  • Academic and Career Excellence Society


  • Shands Hospital
  • Haven Hospice Care Center and Harbor Chase
  • Helping Hands Clinic

Hobbies and Interests

  • Playing the Violin
  • Stargazing
  • Jogging

Research Description

Mapping Functional and Microstructural Central Nervous System (CNS) Actions of Chronic Methcathinones ("Bath Salts")
There has been a significant surge in case reports of the use and abuse of highly addictive designer cathinones substances, which are also known as “bath salts,” both nationally and locally in Florida. There are some significant recent behavioral pharmacology and in vitro pharmacological investigations that were published. Still, much is unknown about the regional central nervous system (CNS) actions of these compounds upon acute and repeated exposures. In my research, acute and chronic effects of the cathinones MDPV (3,4-methyenedioxypyrovalerone) and 4-MMC (4-methylmethcathinone) on brain reward system activation using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in awake rats will be investigated. It is hypothesized that dopamine-enriched striatal, cortical, and midbrain regions will show blunted neural activity following repeated exposure to MDPV and 4-MMC. Long-term microstructural changes in the brains of C57BL/6J mice will also be examined using diffusion weighted imaging (diffusion tensor imaging, DTI) following acute and chronic exposures to these cathinones. It is anticipated that functional changes will be accompanied by evidence of loss of microstructural integrity in these brain regions. Following imaging, animal tissues will be harvested for postmortem analysis and examination for biomarkers of neurotoxicity and neurodegeneration. The purposes of my research are to contribute new important data that will inform neuropsychiatric research and provide a true translational stream that may be compared against future clinical studies employing functional MRI and DTI in patients abusing “bath salts."