For over two decades, investigators at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) have made significant contributions to our understanding of drugs of abuse. The interests of these researchers encompass drug synthesis and pharmacokinetic, neurochemical, molecular, behavioral and pharmacological characterization of most classes of abused drugs. While there have always been active collaborations among some of these investigators, the drug abuse research effort at VCU has been enhanced by the creation of the NIDA Center on Drug Abuse Research. The primary objective of the Center is to foster interdisciplinary research on drug abuse at VCU. The Center will continue to provide a mechanism for bringing together scientists from many different disciplines who have had the opportunity to share information and ideas regarding abused drugs. In this regard, the Center serves a coordinating role for all drug abuse grants at VCU, which includes numerous R01's, a training grant, several individual training awards and a program project. Another major contribution continues to be the training and development of young scientists in drug abuse research. Our success in stimulating collaborative research as well as in recruiting young investigators is reflected in the growth of the Center which is composed of a core and seven research projects. The role of the Core is to provide program management and facilitate interaction and cooperation among the participants through its administrative, drug synthesis, and shared instrumentation, and its drug self-administration laboratory. In addition, a new Small Grants Program will provide a mechanism to attract established investigators in other fields to drug abuse research and to allow for pilot investigations in response to new drug abuse problems by junior and senior scientists already associated with the Center. Of course, basic research will continue to be a primary focus of the Center. Projects 1 and 2 are devoted to examining the consequences of opioid exposure on the fetus and in the newborn. There will be an increased emphasis on nicotine as reflected in the synthetic component of the Core, Project 3 which is a new synthetic research project, and the continuation of Project 4 which examines central nicotine receptors. A new investigator will investigate the role of cannabinoids in the immune system in brain (Project 5). Project 6 will continue to be devoted to the cloning of cannabinoid receptors and the characterization of the ligand recognition site. Finally, the objective of Project 7 will continue to be directed toward the elucidation of antinociceptive mechanism(s) of cannabinoids.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Specialized Center (P50)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (SRCD (07))
Program Officer
Thadani, Pushpa
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Virginia Commonwealth University
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Bagdas, Deniz; Alkhlaif, Yasmin; Jackson, Asti et al. (2018) New insights on the effects of varenicline on nicotine reward, withdrawal and hyperalgesia in mice. Neuropharmacology 138:72-79
Jackson, Kia J; Muldoon, Pretal P; Walters, Carrie et al. (2016) Neuronal calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II mediates nicotine reward in the conditioned place preference test in mice. Behav Pharmacol 27:50-6
Nass, Sara R; Long, Jonathan Z; Schlosburg, Joel E et al. (2015) Endocannabinoid Catabolic Enzymes Play Differential Roles in Thermal Homeostasis in Response to Environmental or Immune Challenge. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol 10:364-70
Muldoon, P P; Chen, J; Harenza, J L et al. (2015) Inhibition of monoacylglycerol lipase reduces nicotine withdrawal. Br J Pharmacol 172:869-82
Poklis, Justin L; Devers, Kelly G; Arbefeville, Elise F et al. (2014) Postmortem detection of 25I-NBOMe [2-(4-iodo-2,5-dimethoxyphenyl)-N-[(2-methoxyphenyl)methyl]ethanamine] in fluids and tissues determined by high performance liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry from a traumatic death. Forensic Sci Int 234:e14-20
Poklis, Justin L; Nanco, Carol R; Troendle, Michelle M et al. (2014) Determination of 4-bromo-2,5-dimethoxy-N-[(2-methoxyphenyl)methyl]-benzeneethanamine (25B-NBOMe) in serum and urine by high performance liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry in a case of severe intoxication. Drug Test Anal 6:764-9
Ignatowska-Jankowska, B M; Ghosh, S; Crowe, M S et al. (2014) In vivo characterization of the highly selective monoacylglycerol lipase inhibitor KML29: antinociceptive activity without cannabimimetic side effects. Br J Pharmacol 171:1392-407
Bagdas, Deniz; Muldoon, Pretal P; Zhu, Andy Z X et al. (2014) Effects of methoxsalen, a CYP2A5/6 inhibitor, on nicotine dependence behaviors in mice. Neuropharmacology 85:67-72
Wolf, Carl E; Goldstein, Ashley; Poklis, Justin L et al. (2014) Evaluation of an enzyme immunoassay for the detection of methadone metabolite EDDP [2-ethylidene-1,5-dimethyl-3,3-diphenylpyrrolidine] in urine. J Clin Lab Anal 28:136-40
Burston, James J; Sagar, Devi Rani; Shao, Pin et al. (2013) Cannabinoid CB2 receptors regulate central sensitization and pain responses associated with osteoarthritis of the knee joint. PLoS One 8:e80440

Showing the most recent 10 out of 106 publications