Have you ever wondered whether genetics or environment is the primary factor for alcohol dependence? Wondered what is the most devastating drug? Or what are those monkeys doing on the beach?

The Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center at UVA is sponsoring a program on Wednesday, November 9th in Newcomb Hall Ballroom from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. to address the issue of alcohol and drug use and what is going on with our brains. It is titled “Molecules that Monkey with Your Mind.”

This is the annual Susan Grossman Memorial Speaker event that is co-sponsored with the Gordie Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, the Athletics Department, and the Office of the Dean of Students at UVA.

The presenter, Linda Hancock, will:

  • Answer the question “What is the most devastating drug?”
  • Use interactive technology to examine what’s normal and what’s not regarding “molecule” use
  • Increase our knowledge to better understand ourselves as well as how to help friends

Dr. Linda Hancock is a Nurse Practitioner and Director of the Wellness Resource Center at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her specialty is making science user‐friendly and fun.   Dr. Hancock has worked with college students for over 25 years and believes students keep her up-to-date and “real.” She loves to challenge people to think in new ways about all the “S’s” – sex, substance use, smoking, stress and spirituality. She has won several national awards for creative health education programs and her high energy and lively sense of humor have made her a popular national speaker.

At this event, participants will have audience response clickers so that they can answer questions anonymously on many subject areas: energy drinks, sexual behaviors, alcohol and drug use. Dr. Hancock uses a variety of interactive activities and YouTube videos to provoke fresh thinking about alcohol and other drugs and how we can reduce harm. Participants will learn about the research in genetic and environmental causes for alcohol dependence – by watching videos of monkeys. You have to see it to believe it!

The Susan Grossman Memorial Speaker event brings a presenter to UVA grounds each year to talk about substance abuse issues relevant to the college environment. The Women’s Center helped to establish this event in memory of Dr. Susan Grossman, the founding director of prevention programs at UVA’s Institute for Substance Abuse Studies (now the Gordie Center for Substance Abuse Prevention). In 1989, Dr. Grossman partnered with UVA head athletic trainer Dr. Joe Gieck to create the first Student-Athlete Mentor (SAM) program. This peer-to-peer approach promotes a safer, health-enhancing atmosphere for teams and identifies teammates in need of early intervention. Dozens of college athletics departments have replicated the SAM program on their campuses. In 1991, Dr. Grossman and Dr. Gieck created the APPLE model: a comprehensive set of guiding principles and assessment tools for preventing substance abuse among student-athletes. The Gordie Center’s annual APPLE Training Institutes are in their 26th year and are the leading national substance abuse prevention and health promotion conferences for student-athletes and athletics department administrators.

The prevention programs and services now offered by the Gordie Center focus on peer education, bystander intervention and recovery support. This event on November 9th is part of Substance Abuse Prevention Week at UVA. For more detailed information go to https://gordiecenter.studenthealth.virginia.edu/substance-abuse-prevention-week

Susan Grossman was a leader, mentor, and an inspiration to everyone at UVA working on substance abuse prevention and treatment. She passed away in 1999.

Let’s honor her memory by creating a community where we discuss these important issues with compassion, we eliminate stigma, and where everyone feels supported in asking for help.


For anyone needing help with alcohol or mental health problems at UVA;

  • CAPS for students 243-5150
  • Hoos in Recovery peer support group for students www.virginia.edu/hoosinrecovery
  • Employee Assistance for staff and faculty at UVA 243-2643
  • Women’s Center Counseling for students, staff and faculty 982-2252
  • Region TEN for Community members 972-1800
  • And the Women’s Center website is www.womenscenter.virginia.edu