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Psychopharmacology Research Group

The Psychopharmacology Research Group (PRG) designs, leads and coordinates both NIH (NIMH, NIDA and NIAAA) and industry sponsored (investigator-initiated) studies at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) and through a network of clinical sites in New Hampshire, Vermont and across the country.

The mission of the PRG is to increase our understanding of the basis of severe mental illness and to improve overall treatment options.

The areas of focus of the on-going studies of the group are schizophrenia, schizophrenia and co-occurring substance use disorder, and alcoholism.

Animal studies

On-going animal research within the PRG is closely linked to the work of the Neuroscience Center at Dartmouth. These translational research studies involve investigation of animal models of schizophrenia and alcoholism to further probe the basis of these disorders, and to test out potential new therapeutic agents and techniques.

Other studies probe the neural circuitry of binge eating. Among new therapeutic strategies being studied are novel pharmacological approaches and neurosurgical methods to modulate activity of delineated neural circuitry. Methodology includes animal behavior, pharmacology, imaging, electrophysiological recording and neurostimulation.

Neuroimaging studies

On-going neuroimaging studies (in partnership with the Brain Imaging Lab) use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) techniques to elucidate structural and functional deficits in patients with serious psychiatric disorders.

One area of focus at present involves the use of fMRI to elucidate brain reward circuitry as a target for therapeutic intervention. A recent study is seeking to assess the effect of cannabis on brain function in people with schizophrenia and co-occurring cannabis use disorder.

Clinical trials

The PRG has a number of on-going clinical trials, most of which are hypothesis testing proof of concept studies. In these studies, therapeutic agents (some of which are also studied within our animal research and neuroimaging programs) can be evaluated in human populations. These trials are undertaken at sites in the region of DHMC, in sites throughout New Hampshire and Vermont, and in affiliated sites across the country.

Membership

Collaborating sites/groups

  • Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
  • Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth College
  • West Central Behavioral Health
  • New Hampshire Hospital
  • Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester
  • White River Junction VA Medical Center
  • Greater Nashua Mental Health
  • Healthy Perspectives, LLC
  • Monadnock Family Services
  • Rutland Regional Medical Center
  • Clinical Trials Center Alliance
  • Center for Psychiatric Advancement
  • Community Council of Nashua
  • Riverbend Community Mental Health Center
  • Center for Technology and Behavioral Health

Affiliated academic institutions

  • University of Vermont
  • University of Massachusetts
  • University of North Carolina
  • University of South Carolina
  • University of Miami
  • Michigan State University

Current funding

  • NIDA: Clozapine for cannabis use disorder in schizophrenia (2012-2017)
  • NIDA: Cannabis, schizophrenia and reward: self-medication and agonist treatment? (2013-2020)
  • NCATS: SYNERGY: The Dartmouth Clinical and Translational Science Institute (2013-2020)
  • NIAAA/Fast-Track Drugs & Biologics, LLC: Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo Controlled Trial of the Safety and Efficacy of HORIZANT Extended-Release Tablet for the Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorder
  • Alkermes: Olanzapine and samidorphan in alcohol-drinking rodents
  • C4SI: CSC OnDemand: An innovative online learning platform for implementing coordinated specialty care (2016-2020)
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research: Toward a valid rat model of alcohol use disorder in schizophrenia: Brain reward circuit dysfunction and effects of alcohol and clozapine (2015-2017)
  • Creare: Self Administered Neuropsychological Assessment Battery (2015-2017)
  • NCI: RCT of a motivational decision support system for smokers with severe mental illnesses (2013-2017)

Recent publications

Visit the PubMed website to see a selection of publications by the Psychopharmacology Research Group.

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