Associate Professor of Pharmacology
Ph.D., Texas A&M University
drug dependence, cannabinoids, nicotine, opiods, sedative-hypnotics, behavior
Drug dependence can have devastating consequences not only for the dependent individual, but also for family, friends, public health, and society. Developing effective therapies for drug dependence requires an understanding of the environmental, behavioral, and pharmacologic determinants responsible for drug use. Research in my laboratory integrates principles of behavior and receptor theory to identify mechanisms in the nervous system responsible for the abuse liability of sedative-hypnotics, opioids, and cannabinoids.
Cannabis use, in particular, has received considerable scrutiny. From the perspective of public health, cannabis appears to have some therapeutic value on the one hand and deleterious effects on performance and quality of life on the other. Current research emphasizes:
1) Mechanism(s) of cannabinoid action. The effects of cannabis that lead to its self-administration are hypothesized to be mediated by a common mechanism at a particular cannabinoid receptor subtype. Results of ongoing studies suggest that a single mechanism does not account for the behavioral effects of cannabinoids.
2) Dependence that results from chronic cannabinoid treatment. Learned behavior is being used to better understand the neuropharmacology of cannabis dependence, as defined by withdrawal upon discontinuation of cannabinoid treatment, and to identify medicines that might alleviate withdrawal in those seeking to achieve abstinence in the clinic.
Lectures, Posters and Presentations
'Effects of the cannabinoid JWH-018, a primary component of K2/Spice, in rhesus monkeys', The College on Problems of Drug Dependence, Miami, FL., June 19, 2011
Megan Jo 'MJ' Moerke - Graduate Student
Fernando Moura - Graduate Student