On this page you will find a collection of active addiction-related projects ongoing across Rutgers. Learn about on-going research projects and datasets available for analysis. Contact information for each project listed below is provided.
If you are interested in hosting your project on this page, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your project details.
A Puff Topography Biofeedback Paradigm to Reduce Stress-Precipitated Smoking Reinforcement
This project involves an experimental design to evaluate the acute effects of a novel puff topography biofeedback paradigm informed by autonomic psychophysiology to attenuate stress-precipitated smoking reinforcement in emotionally vulnerable smokers.
Addiction & Decision Neuroscience Lab Projects
The Addiction & Decision Neuroscience Lab has several ongoing projects related to the cognitive neuroscience of recovery in opioid use disorder. In one project, they aim to test a psychological model of relapse to opioid use which predicts that optimistic beliefs about harm (a cognitive process associated with an under-appreciation of risk and resistance to unfavorable information) can cause people to accept more risk in everyday activities, and consequently take actions that precipitate drug reuse, relapse, and treatment failure. In another, they aim to discover what happens in the brain when we experience craving, the strong and specific motivational state for a particular object or experience, how the brain can arbitrate between one type of craving (e.g., for food) versus another (e.g., for drugs), and how this circuitry is reshaped when craving becomes pathological, as in addiction.
Addressing the Central Control of Glucagon like peptide-1 (GLP-1) on Feeding Behavior
Obesity and diabetes are very common metabolic disorders linked to brain dysfunction. Glucagon-like peptide- 1 (GLP-1) analogs reduce food intake in humans, and this is an FDA-approved drug for treating type 2 diabetes that is also approved for weight loss in treating obesity; however, their mechanism for suppression of food intake is unclear. Addressing the central control of GLP-1 on feeding behavior will not only help us understand the functions of neuropeptides in the brain but will also inform the pharmacotherapy of obesity.
Afferent Neurocardiac Signals, Cue Reactivity, and Cognitive Control
The aim of this project is to examine whether a brief behavioral intervention of slow breathing paced at a resonance frequency of the cardiovascular system can enhance attention and cognitive control in young adults. Results from this study may provide evidence of novel brain-body prevention and intervention targets to improve physical health.
Collaborative Studies on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA)
The Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA) is a multi-site project whose goal is to identify specific genes involved in the predisposition to alcohol dependence and related disorders. The COGA sample consists of large families densely affected with alcohol dependence, who were identified through inpatient or outpatient alcohol treatment programs. All individuals were administered the Semi-Structured Assessment for the Genetics of Alcoholism (SSAGA) interview, a polydiagnostic instrument that assesses most major psychiatric disorders. Since 1991, COGA has interviewed more than 17,000 members of more than 2,200 families from across the United States, many of whom have been longitudinally assessed. COGA has used a variety of complementary strategies for gene identification, and has a variety of genotyped samples in which different types of genetic analyses are on-going. These include (1) family-based linkage sample; (2) case control GWAS sample; and (3) child-adolescent sample. Family members, including adults, children, and adolescents, have been carefully characterized across a variety of domains, including alcohol and other substance-related phenotypes, co-occurring disorders (e.g. depression), electrophysiology, key precursor behavioral phenotypes (e.g. conduct disorder), and environmental risk factors (e.g. stress). COGA participants have also provided a blood sample that has been used to create a repository of DNA and cell lines which are used for genetic studies.
The College Pile Up study
The College Pile Up study is a two-year study that seeks to understand how typical college health behaviors, such as drinking alcohol and experiencing high levels of stress, affect the cardiovascular system. The study includes 2 in-person laboratory sessions and weekly online surveys for 4 semesters. In the lab, cardiovascular reactions to several breathing tasks are assessed. Online surveys assess substance use, exercise, sleep, and stress. This rich longitudinal dataset will be used to better capture facets of substance use patterns and how they overlap with other common health behaviors, such as high stress and insufficient sleep.
Compound RUEC2-118 a fast-acting treatment for general anxiety and panic disorder
We are involved in collaborative proof-of-concept studies of compound RUEC2-118, a novel partial GABAAR positive modulator, as a fast-acting treatment for general anxiety and panic disorder, to prevent benzodiazepine withdrawal and overdose fatalities.
Cultural and Environmental Influences on Precursors to and Early Stages of Alcohol, Nicotine, and Cannabis Use in Black and Latinx Youth
Reducing harms associated with early and problem use of alcohol, nicotine, and cannabis among Black and Latinx youth requires insight into the family and community level cultural and environmental factors most salient to substance use risk in Black and Latinx girls and boys from the pre- to mid-adolescent years. The proposed secondary data analysis project focuses on cultural and environmental factors of particular relevance to members of racial/ethnic minority groups, such as racial/ethnic discrimination and ethnic identity, as well as those more prevalent in Black and Latinx than White youth (e.g., neighborhood disadvantage, religious involvement) to characterize pathways of substance use – from cognitions that precede first use to early onset regular use – from ages 9 to 16. Findings will lay the groundwork for cultural tailoring of substance use prevention strategies for Black and Latinx youth toward the broader goal of reducing substance use related health disparities.
Development and Pilot Investigation of Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback for Smoking Cessation
The project aims to develop and pilot test heart rate variability biofeedback as a treatment adjunct to standard smoking cessation treatment including nicotine replacement therapy patch and individual cognitive-behavioral smoking cessation counseling for smokers high in emotional distress. Phase I of the project will include an open trial, focused on feasibility and acceptability and protocol refinement. Phase II will include a small RCT of the revised intervention compared to a control sham breathing condition.
Development of genetically encoded fluorescent reporters for in vitro study
Extracellular DA levels are influenced by two important presynaptic proteins: the DA D2 receptor short isoform (D2DRsh), which acts presynaptically as an inhibitory autoreceptor; and the DA transporter, DAT, which clears extracellular DA through reuptake. D2DRshs and DATs are internalized, and portions are recycled back onto the cell membrane. To better understand these trafficking events in drug addiction, we are in the process of engineering and optimizing genetically encoded fluorescent reporters with biophysical properties suitable for reporting membrane trafficking of DAT and D2DRsh in vivo. We have made prototypes for in vitro study and we welcome collaborations.
Ecological Momentary Assessment of Racial Microaggressions and Alcohol Use in African American Young Adults
African American adults are disproportionately exposed to alcohol-related risk factors and experience high levels of alcohol-related illness, injuries, and negative social consequences, making the identification of prevention and intervention targets for this population a crucial public health aim. Racial discrimination has been linked to problem drinking among African Americans, but the impact of everyday race-related discriminatory events, known as racial microaggressions, and possible buffers against their effects on day-to- day drinking behaviors have yet to be identified. The submitted project implements an ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to track race-related microaggression experiences and drinking behaviors in real time among African American adults in the peak period of risk for problem drinking (ages 18-25) to evaluate associations between racial microaggressions and alcohol use in this high-risk group.
Effectiveness of the Opioid Overdose Recovery Program on treatment linkage and repeat overdose
NJ has developed the Opioid Overdose Recovery Program (OORP), which provides peer-to-peer recovery supports and linkage to treatment for opiate overdose survivors identified in hospital emergency departments. We will evaluate the effectiveness of the OORP on treatment linkage and repeat overdose using Medicaid data. Our design calls for two approaches to assessing OORP effectiveness. These include: 1) a comparison of outcomes of all patients treated for non-fatal overdose in OORP (intervention group) and non-OORP (control group) hospitals before and after OORP implementation (intention-to-treat, or ITT, analysis); and 2) a comparison of the outcomes of Medicaid-eligible individuals enrolled in the OORP program (the intervention group) with a randomly-selected matched group of patients seen at non-OORP hospitals (the control group) during the same time frame (as-treated analysis).