Meet Our Team

Robert M. Anthenelli, M.D. • Director

Robert M. Anthenelli, M.D.Robert M. Anthenelli, M.D. earned his baccalaureate degree from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, USA and his M.D. degree from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. After graduating medical school, he completed his internship in internal medicine at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore. Dr. Anthenelli did residency training in psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine and VA San Diego. Additional post-doctoral training included a 2-year fellowship in addiction psychiatry research that was funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs. He was formerly a Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine where he founded and directed the Center for Treatment, Research & Education in Addictive Disorders and the Addiction Sciences Division. Dr. Anthenelli is now Professor and Vice Chair for VA Affairs in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine where he directs the Pacific Treatment and Research Center. He also serves as the Associate Chief of Staff for Mental Health at the VA San Diego Healthcare System.

Melodie Isgro, M.D. • Study Physician

Melodie Isgro, M.D.

Melodie Isgro, M.D. received her B.S. degree in Biological and Medical Sciences from the University of Florida. She then attended UF's College of Medicine to obtain her M.D. degree, followed by an Emergency Medicine residency at Wake Forest NC Baptist Hospital in North Carolina. After becoming Board Certified in Emergency Medicine, she practiced Emergency and Urgent Care medicine for 15 years before completing a clinical Fellowship in Addiction Medicine at the Addiction Institute of New York. Melodie is joining the Pac-TARC team as a 2 year VA Interprofessional Advanced Fellowship in Addiction Treatment Fellow. She is looking forward to working alongside Dr. Anthenelli and his team to help her develop her research skills while advancing the knowledge of addiction treatment.


Benjamin McKenna, Ph.D. • Clinical Psychologist

Benjamin McKenna, Ph.D.

Dr. McKenna received his B.S. in psychology from the University of Arizona. In 2011, he earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology with a specialization in neuropsychology from the SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology and completed a predoctoral internship at the University of Arizona University Medical Center. Following his Ph.D. Dr. McKenna completed a Veteran’s Affairs Advanced Fellowship in Mental Illness Research and Treatment before joining the Translational Methamphetamine and AIDS Research Center on a NIDA-funded T32 Postdoctoral Fellowship for Training in Research on Addictions in Interdisciplinary NeuroAIDS.

Dr. McKenna’s primary research interests aim to better understand neurobiological changes in mental illnesses and addictions. Within PAC-TARC, he is interested in examining treatments for patients who have co-morbid mental illness and addiction.


Tracy Bittner, B.A. • Clinical Research Coordinator

Tracy Bittner, B.A.

Tracy received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego. As an undergraduate student, she completed an internship at The Scripps Institute of Research under Dr. George Koob. Ms. Bittner has been working at Pac-TARC for almost three years and advanced from a student intern to study coordinator.




Esther Wong, B.A. • Clinical Research Coordinator

  Tracy received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego. As an undergraduate student, she completed an internship at The Scripps Institute of Research under Dr. George Koob. Ms. Bittner has been working at Pac-TARC for almost three years and advanced from a student intern to study coordinator.  Esther Wong, B.A.

Esther Wong earned her baccalaureate degree in Psychology from the University of California, Irvine. Upon graduation, she joined Dr. Robert Anthenelli’s research team at the University of California, San Diego, working with patients diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder and alcohol and drug dependence. More recently, she has been involved with philanthropic organizations such as Children’s Hospital Auxiliary, various groups supporting autism research and treatment, and Grace Home Orphanage in India. She is excited to rejoin Dr. Anthenelli and the Pac-TARC team.



Emily Johnson, M.S. • Regulatory Affairs Consultant

Emily Johnson, M.S.

Emily Johnson is our Regulatory Affairs consultant. Ms. Johnson completed her undergraduate studies in Psychology at UCSD, and her Master of Science in Cognitive Neuroscience from the University of London. She has advanced training in clinical trials and experience as a Clinical Research Coordinator and Clinical Monitor. Ms. Johnson is a member of the Society of Clinical Research Associates (SoCRA) and the Association for Clinical Research Professionals. She is also a Certified Clinical Research Professional (SoCRA).



Michelle Frankot • Student Intern

Michelle Frankot

Michelle Frankot is an undergraduate student studying Psychology and Spanish at Point Loma Nazarene University. She plans to apply to Ph.D programs in Clinical Psychology with a research emphasis on Personality Psychology.






Soo Yong Lee • Student Intern

Soo Yong Lee

Soo Yong Lee is an UCSD undergraduate student, earning Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. He is strongly interested in affective mental disorders and plans to pursue PhD in clinical psychology. As his career, he wants to do both clinical research and practice