Robert Malison MD

Professor of Psychiatry; Director, Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit (CNRU); Director, Neuroscience Research Training Program; Chief, Cocaine Research Clinic

Research Interests

Neurobiology and genetics of substance dependence disorders; Psychostimulant (cocaine and methamphetamine) dependence; Drug abuse; Sleep and cognition; Impulsivity and stimulants

Current Projects

  • Translational Research of Cocaine, Striatum, and Impulsivity (P20 DA027844)
  • Patient-Oriented Research and Mentoring in the Neurobiology and Genetics of Drug Addiction (K24 DA017899)
  • Genetics of Opiate Dependence in a Hmong (Thai) Isolate (R01 DA018363)Drug Abuse, Sleep and Cognition (R01 DA011744)
  • DBH, D2high, and Cocaine Aversion: A [11C]PHNO PET Study (R03 DA027466)
  • Integrated Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Training (IMPORT) in Psychiatry (R25 MH071584)
  • A Human Laboratory Study of the Safety and Potential Efficacy of Metreleptin in Cocaine-Abusing Humans

Research Summary

Our group is interested in the neurobiology and genetics of substance dependence disorders, including psychostimulant (cocaine, methylphenidate and methamphetamine) and opiate dependence. Various methodologies are employed, including human laboratory studies of cocaine self-administration, reinforcement, and subjective effects (e.g., euphoria, paranoia). We are currently exploring via pharmacogenetic methods the impact of acute administration of stimulants on impulsivity and related behavioral constructs (compulsivity, reward prediction error, psychosis vulnerability and stress). Concurrent with this work, we have developed an interest in the role of neuropeptides (e.g., orexin and leptin) in mediating relapse to stimulant abuse, and the potential therapeutic actions / mechanism of the wakefulness promoting agent and dopamine reuptake inhibitor, modafinil. Finally, in collaboration with Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, we are conducting a study of the genetics of opioid and methamphetamine dependence in a northern Thai (Hmong) hill tribe population.


Selected Publications

  • Malison RT, Best SE, van Dyck CH, McCance EF, Wallace EA, Laruelle M, Baldwin RM, Seibyl JP, Price LH, Kosten TR, Innis RB. Elevated striatal dopamine transporters in acute cocaine abstinence as measured by [123I]ß-CIT SPECT. Am J Psychiatry 155:832-834, 1998.
  • Malison RT, Price LH, Berman R, Pelton GH, Carpenter L, Sanacora G, Owens M, Nemeroff CB, Rajeevan N, Baldwin RM, Seibyl JP, Innis RB, Charney DS. Reduced brain serotonin transporter availability in major depression as measured by [123I]ß-carbomethoxy-3ß-(4-iodophenyl)tropane and single photon emission computed tomography. Biological Psychiatry 44:1090-1098, 1998).
  • Sughondhabirom A, Jain D, Gueorguieva R, Coric V, Berman R, Lynch WJ, Self D, Jatlow P, Malison RT. A paradigm to investigate the self-regulation of cocaine administration in humans. Psychopharmacology 180:436-446, 2005.
  • Morgan PT, Pace-Schott EF, Sahul ZH, Coric V, Stickgold R, Malison RT. Deficits in sleep, sleep-dependent procedural learning and vigilance in chronic cocaine users: evidence for occult insomnia. Drug & Alcohol Dependence 82: 238-249, 2006
  • Kalayasiri R, Kranzler HR, Weiss R, Brady K, Gueorguieva R, Panhuysen C, Yang B-Z, Farrer L, Gelernter J, Malison RT. Risk factors for cocaine-induced paranoia in cocaine-dependent sibling pairs. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 84:74-84, 2006.
  • Kalayasiri R, Sughondhabirom A, Gueorguieva R, Coric V, Lynch WJ, Lappalainen J, Gelernter J, Cubells JF, Malison RT. DBH -1021C?T influences self-reported paranoia during cocaine self-administration. Biological Psychiatry. 61: 1310-1313, 2007.
  • Ding YS, Singhal T, Planeta-Wilson B, Gallezot JD, Nabulsi N, Labaree D, Ropchan J, Henry S, Williams W, Carson R, Neumeister A, Malison RT. PET imaging of the effects of age and cocaine on the norepinephrine transporter in the human brain using (S,S)-[11C]O-methylreboxetine and HRRT. Synapse 64: 30-38, 2010.

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