Dr. Mello is Professor of Psychology (Neuroscience) in the Department of Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School. She is also Co-Director of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Center and Director of the Behavioral Science Laboratory at McLean Hospital. After receiving a PhD in Clinical Psychology at Pennsylvania State University, Dr. Mello was a postdoctoral trainee in Physiology with Dr. J.L. Downer at the Harvard Medical School, and in the Experimental Analysis of Behavior with Dr. B.F. Skinner at Harvard University. Dr. Mello then joined the Stanley Cobb Laboratories for Psychiatric Research at Massachusetts General Hospital and built her first operant behavior laboratory. Subsequently, Dr. Mello entered federal service and directed the first Intramural Research Program of the NIMH National Center for Prevention and Control of Alcoholism, later the NIAAA, NIH. She was also a Research Consultant to the Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention of the Executive Office of the President.
Dr. Mello returned to the Harvard Medical School, and with her friend, colleague and husband, Dr. Jack H. Mendelson, founded the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Center at McLean Hospital. Dr. Mello conducts interdisciplinary clinical and preclinical research on substance abuse and has published over 350 scientific papers and 11 books and monographs. One of her long-standing research interests is the identification and evaluation of new medications for cocaine and opioid abuse treatment in both clinical and preclinical studies. Recently, Dr. Mello has focused on the analysis of the interactions between cocaine and opioids, and medication-based treatment of heroin + cocaine “speedball” self-administration. In addition, Dr. Mello is currently studying the interactions between abused substances and the hormonal milieu. The rapid hormonal changes induced by cocaine and nicotine are very similar and may influence their reinforcing effects as well as drug-related reproductive dysfunction. A better understanding of the hormonal correlates of the abuse-related effects of drugs may eventually suggest new approaches to treatment.