A headshot photo of Melissa Blank.

Melissa Blank, PhD

Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Training, Coordinator of Behavioral Neuroscience Program, Department of Psychology

Contact Information


  • Department of Psychology
  • Department of Neuroscience
  • Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute
  • WVU Cancer Institute

Graduate Training

  • PhD, Biological Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University


  • Moffitt Cancer Center, Behavioral Oncology, Tampa, FL

Research Interests

Dr. Blank’s research aims to identify the primary determinants and consequences of smoking behavior using human models of drug dependence. Dependent measures typically include toxicant exposure (carbon monoxide, nicotine, carcinogens), genetic substrates (nicotinic receptor polymorphisms), topography of use (puffing behavior, frequency of consumption), cardiovascular response (heart rate, blood pressure), and subjective ratings (product acceptability, withdrawal suppression). Currently, Dr Blank is conducting research into the use of alternative tobacco products, such as cigars, smokeless tobacco, and waterpipes and the evaluation of novel tobacco products marketed as a means to reduce smoking-related harms.



Blank, M.D., Pearson, J., Cobb, C.O., Felicione, N.J., Hiler, M., Spindle, T.R., & Breland, A.B., (in press). What individual-level factors predict electronic cigarette nicotine delivery? Tobacco Control.

Ozga-Hess, J.E., Felicione, N.J., Ferguson, S., Dino, G., Elswick, D., Whitworth, C., Turiano, N., & Blank, M.D. (in press). Piloting a clinical laboratory method to evaluate the influence of potential modified risk tobacco products on smokers’ quit-related motivation, choice, and behavior. Addictive Behaviors.

Felicione, N.J., Enlow, P., Elswick, D., Long, D.M., Sullivan, C.S., & Blank, M.D. (2019). A pilot investigation of the effect of electronic cigarettes on smoking behavior among opioid-dependent smokers. Addictive Behaviors, 91, 45-50. PMID: 30006020.


Ozga, J.E., Felicione, N.J., Blank, M.D., & Turiano, N. (2018). Cigarette smoking mediates the association between future thinking and norepinephrine level. Addictive Behaviors, 87, 33-38. PMID: 29940389.

Ozga, J.E., Felicione, N.J., Elswick, D., & Blank, M.D. (2018). Acute effects of snus in never tobacco users: A pilot study. The American Journal of Drug & Alcohol Abuse, 44(1), 113-119. PMID: 27929684.


Blank, M.D., Ferris, K.A., Metzger, A., Gentzler, A., Duncan, C., Jarrett, T., & Dino, G. (2017). Physical activity and quit motivation moderators of adolescent smoking reduction. American Journal of Health Behavior, 41(4), 419-427. PMID: 28601101.


Blank, M.D., Breland, A., Cobb, C.O., Spindle, T., Ramôa, C., & Eissenberg, T. (2016). Clinical laboratory evaluation of electronic cigarettes: methodological challenges. Tobacco Regulatory Science, 2(4), 426-439. PMID: 28819633

Blank, M.D., Breland, A., Enlow, P.T., Duncan, C., Metzger, A., & Cobb, C.O. (2016). Measurement of smoking behavior: comparison of self-reports, returned cigarette butts, and toxicant levels. Experimental & Clinical Psychopharmacology, 24(5), 348-355. PMID: 27347741

Nasim, A., Guy, M., Soule, E., Cobb, C.O., Blank, M.D., & Eissenberg, T. (2016). Characteristics and patterns of Black&Mild use among African American smokers. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 18(5), 842-849.  PMID: 26615202

Harrell, P.T., Lin, H.Y., Park, J.Y., Blank, M.D., Drobes, D.J., & Evans, D.E. (2016). Dopaminergic genetic variation moderates the effect of nicotine on cigarette reward. Psychopharmacology, 233(2), 351-360. PMID: 26497691

Blank, M.D., Cobb, C.O., Eissenberg, T., & Nasim, A. (2016). Acute effects of “hyping” a Black&Mild cigarillo. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 18(4), 460-469. PIMD: 25782456


Blank, M.D., & Eissenberg, T. (2015).  Commentary on Brose et al. (2015). Protecting individual and public health by regulating electronic cigarette nicotine delivery. Addiction, 110(7), 1169-1170. PIMD: 26094498

Chen, X., Aggen, S.H., Chen, J., Li, L, Kendler, K., Blank, M.D., Eissenberg, T. (2015). Genetic risks to nicotine dependence predict negative mood and affect in current non-smokers. Scientific Reports, 5, 9521. PMID: 25826680

Cobb, C.O., Blank, M.D., Morlett, A., Shihadeh, A., Jaroudi, E., Karaoghlanian, N., Kilgalen, B., Austin, J., Weaver, M.F., & Eissenberg, T. (2015). Comparison of puff topography, toxicant exposure, and subjective effects in low- and high-frequency waterpipe users: a double-blind, placebo-control study. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 17(6), 667-674. PMID: 25257982

Nasim, A., Blank, M.D., Cobb, C.O., & Eissenberg, T. (2015). Adolescent former cigarette smokers’ vulnerability to other tobacco products. Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse, 24(2), 113-118.

Cobb, C.O., Nasim, A., Jentink, K., & Blank, M.D. (2015). The role of caffeine in the alcohol consumption behaviors of college students. Substance Abuse, 26, 1-9. PMID: 24965056


Nasim, A., Blank, M.D., Cobb, C.O., Berry, B.M., Kennedy, M.G., & Eissenberg, T. (2014). How to freak a Black & Mild: a multi-study analysis of YouTube videos illustrating cigar product modification. Health Education Research, 29(1), 41-57. PMID: 24162926

MacQueen, D., Heckman, B., Blank, M.D., Janse Van Rensburg, K., Park, J., Drobes, D.J., & Evans, D.E. (2014). Variation in the alpha 5 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit gene predicts cigarette smoking intensity as a function of nicotine content. The Pharmacogenomics Journal, 14(1), 70-76. PMID: 23358500

Blank, M.D., Brown, K.W., Goodman, R.J., & Eissenberg, T. (2014). An observational study of group waterpipe use in a natural environment. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 16(1), 93-99. PMID: 23943842


Oliver, J.A., Blank, M.D., Van Rensburg, K.J., MacQueen, D.A., Brandon, T.H., & Drobes, D.J. (2013). Nicotine interactions with low-dose alcohol: pharmacological influences on smoking and drinking motivations. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 122(4), 1154-1165. PMID: 24364618

Drobes, D.J., MacQueen, D.A., Blank, M.D., Saladin, M.E., & Malcolm, R.J. (2013). Effects of intravenous nicotine on prepulse inhibition in smokers and nonsmokers’ relationship with familial smoking. Psychopharmacology, 229(2), 285-294. PMID: 23624809

Nasim, A., Blank, M.D., Cobb, C.O., & Eissenberg, T. (2013). 37(1), 25-31. PMID: 22943098

Cobb, C.O., Vansickel, A., Blank, M.D., Jentink, K., & Eissenberg, T. (2013). Indoor air quality in VA waterpipe cafés. Tobacco Control, 22(5), 338-343. PMID: 22447194


Nasim, A., Blank, M.D., Berry, B., & Eissenberg, T. (2012). Cigar use misreporting among youth: data from the 2009 Youth Tobacco Survey, Virginia. Preventing Chronic Disease, 9, E42. PMID: 22261252

MacQueen, D., Heckman, B., Blank, M.D., Janse Van Rensburg, K., Evans, D., & Drobes, D. (2012). Transient compensatory smoking in response to placebo cigarettes. Psychopharmacology, 223(1), 47-54. PMID: 22427021

Nasim, A., Khader, Y., Blank, M.D., Cobb, C.O., & Eissenberg, T.  (2012). Trends in alternative tobacco use among light, moderate, and heavy smokers in adolescence, 1999-2009. Addictive Behaviors, 37(7), 866-870. PMID: 22464872

Nasim, A. Blank, M.D., Cobb, C.O. & Eissenberg, T. (2012). Patterns of alternative tobacco use among adolescent cigarette smokers.  Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 124, 26-33. PMID: 22209307

Shihadeh, A., Salman, R., Jaroudi, E., Saliba, N., Sepetdjian, E., Blank, M.D., Cobb, C.O. & Eissenberg, T. (2012). Does switching to a tobacco-free waterpipe product reduce toxicant intake? A crossover study comparing CO, NO, PAH, volatile aldehydes, “tar”, and nicotine levels. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 50(5), 1494-1498. PMID: 22406330


Blank, M.D., Nasim, A., Hart, A., & Eissenberg, T. (2011). Acute effects of cigarillo smoking.  Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 13(9), 874-879. PMID: 21504888

Blank, M.D., Cobb, C., Kilgalen, B., Austin, J., Weaver, M.F., Shihadeh, A., & Eissenberg, T. (2011). Acute effects of waterpipe tobacco smoking: a double-blind, placebo-control study.  Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 116(1-3), 102-109. PMID: 21277706


Bhat, J.D., Blank, M.D., Balster, R.L., Nichter, M., & Nichter, M.  (2010). Areca nut dependence among chewers in a South Indian community who do not also use tobacco.  Addiction, 105(7), 1303-1310.  PMID: 20642513

Blank, M.D. & Eissenberg, T.  (2010). Evaluating oral, non-combustible potential reduced exposure products for smokers.  Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 12(4), 336-343. PMID: 20159791


Blank, M.D., Disharoon, S., & Eissenberg, T.  (2009). Comparison of methods for measurement of smoking behavior: mouthpiece-based computerized devices versus direct observation.  Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 11(7), 896-903. PMID: 19525207


Abrams, K.A., Zvolensky, M., Dorflinger, L., Galatis, A., Blank, M.D., & Eissenberg, T.  (2008). Fear reactivity to bodily sensations among heavy smokers and non-smokers. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 16(3), 230-239. PMID: 18540783

Blank, M.D., Deshpande, L.D., & Balster, R.L.  (2008). Availability and characteristics of areca nut products in the U.S.  Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 40(3), 309-313. PMID: 19004423

Blank, M.D., Sams, C.L., Weaver, M.F., & Eissenberg, T.  (2008). Nicotine delivery, cardiovascular profile, and subjective effects of an oral tobacco product for smokers. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 10(3), 417-421. PMID: 18324559


Blank, M.D., Kleykamp, B.A., Jennings, J.M., & Eissenberg, T.  (2007). Caffeine’s influence on nicotine’s effects in non-smokers. American Journal of Health Behavior, 31(5), 473-483. PMID: 17555378


Evans, S.E., Blank, M.D., Sams, C., Weaver, M.F., & Eissenberg, T.  (2006). Transdermal nicotine-induced tobacco abstinence symptom suppression: nicotine dose and smokers’ gender.  Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 14(2), 121-135. PMID: 16756416


Kleykamp, B.A., Jennings, J.M., Blank, M.D., & Eissenberg, T. (2005). The effects of nicotine on attention and working memory in never-smokers. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 19(4), 433-438. PMID: 16366815

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