In this application for a K23 Career Development Award, the Principal Investigator, Nasir Naqvi, MD, PhD, proposes a comprehensive plan for becoming an independent translational researcher who is capable of integrating cognitive neuroscience and clinical methods in order to elucidate the neural mechanisms by which psychosocial treatments for alcohol dependence change behavior. Psychosocial treatments are commonly utilized, though they remain at best only moderately effective. By identifying the neural mechanisms through which psychosocial treatments change drinking behavior, it may be possible to improve their efficacy. The project focuses specifically on Cognitive Behavioral Coping Skills Therapy (CBCST), an evidence-based psychosocial treatment that promotes abstinence by teaching """"""""coping skills"""""""" for managing alcohol-related thoughts and emotions. The proposed research combines (1) a clinical trial of CBCST in alcohol dependent patients who have completed inpatient rehabilitation and have a goal of maintaining abstinence with (2) functional MRI (fMRI) experiments that probe neural activity related to the utilization of a specifc coping skill that is taught in CBCST: reducing cue-induced craving by thinking about the negative consequences of drinking. The fMRI studies will be performed both before and immediately after treatment with CBCST, with the goal of determining (1) the pattern of neural activity that is related to coping skills utilization prior to undergoing CBCST, with particular fous on neural systems known to play a role in emotion regulation~ (2) whether this pattern of neural activity predicts abstinence vs. relapse during CBCST~ and (3) how CBCST changes this pattern of neural activity. While pursuing this line of research under the guidance of mentors who are recognized experts in psychosocial treatment mechanisms (Jon Morgenstern, PhD) and the cognitive neuroscience of emotion regulation (Kevin Ochsner, PhD), Dr. Naqvi will engage in a comprehensive training program in the following areas: (1) fMRI methods~ (2) clinical trials methods~ (3) translational neuroimaging~ (4) the relevant literature on social cognitive neuroscience, emotion regulation and psychosocial treatment mechanisms~ and (5) grant writing and management skills. This training program will build upon Dr. Naqvi's background as an addiction psychiatrist who has significant experience treating alcohol dependence, but who has relatively little experience in clinical research. Furthermore, while Dr. Naqvi is a PhD-trained cognitive neuroscientist who has already made substantial contributions to our understanding of the pathophysiology of addiction, he has no prior training or experience using fMRI methods. Thus, the K23 award will support an innovative and clinically relevant program of patient-oriented research, while helping Dr. Naqvi acquire critical skills that will ensure his development into an independent translational researcher.

Public Health Relevance

Alcohol dependence is a widespread cause of morbidity and mortality globally. The overall goal of this K23 proposal is to launch the career of the Principal Investigator, Nasir Naqvi, MD, PhD, as an independent translational researcher who is able to combine clinical and cognitive neuroscience methods in order to understand the neural mechanisms by which psychosocial treatments for alcohol dependence change drinking behavior. Ultimately, this patient-oriented research program will lead to improvements in existing psychosocial treatments, the development of novel psychosocial treatments, as well as the rational integration of psychosocial treatments with medications targeting the same neural mechanisms.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAA1)
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Falk, Daniel
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New York State Psychiatric Institute
New York
United States
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Naqvi, Nasir H; Ochsner, Kevin N; Kober, Hedy et al. (2015) Cognitive regulation of craving in alcohol-dependent and social drinkers. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 39:343-9
Naqvi, Nasir H; Morgenstern, Jon (2015) Cognitive Neuroscience Approaches to Understanding Behavior Change in Alcohol Use Disorder Treatments. Alcohol Res 37:29-38
Naqvi, Nasir H; Gaznick, Natassia; Tranel, Daniel et al. (2014) The insula: a critical neural substrate for craving and drug seeking under conflict and risk. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1316:53-70