I am a Research Fellow in the Division of Psychiatry, Neuropsychopharmacology Unit. My research is focused on investigating the brain mechanisms of addiction and relapse and seeks to identify novel targets for treatment using neuroimaging, experimental medicine and clinical trials with the aim of developing new therapies for substance dependence and to improve outcomes.
My research uses multi-modal neuroimaging methods to derive novel brain indices associated with relevant neurocircuitry such as reward, emotion and inhibitory control processing, and explores the impact of known and novel pharmacological interventions to determine whether they have therapeutic potential. This is done using an experimental medicine approach to validate potential new targets, and the use of clinical trials for more formal proof-of-concept and efficacy testing.
Current studies include the NCORE and FORWARDS studies. FORWARDS is investigating the safety and efficacy of baclofen- a GABA-B receptor agonist- to support detoxification from methadone in opiate dependence and is comprised of two separate clinical trials; FORWARDS-1, which is investigating the safety of acute baclofen in combination with prescribed doses of methadone, and FORWARDS-2, which will subsequently investigate the efficacy of baclofen in supporting methadone detoxification (dose reduction and abstinence) over 12 weeks. NCORE is an fMRI study investigating the impact of NK1 receptor antagonism on reward and emotional processing in opiate dependence during and after detoxification from methadone maintenance treatment. The NK1 receptor is a tractable target for potential new therapies to support detoxification and relapse prevention.
Other projects include the IMBAC study investigating the effects of baclofen on reward and emotional processing in alcoholism, and the ICCAM platform study, a multi-centre fMRI study of the neuropharmacology of addiction, which is investigating the effects of opioid, dopamine and NK1 receptor antagonism on brain pathways involved in reward, inhibitory control and stress/emotional processing.
Aside from my main role, I am Honorary Research Fellow at Central & North West London NHS Foundation Trust with whom we have close links for the recruitment of research participants from Drug & Alcohol Services, and I am an Associate Member of the ITMAT Data Sciences Group at Imperial College, collaborating on a BRC funded project to identify predictors of relapse using multivariate and machine learning classification methods.
I also have a keen interest in sleep, with a current CNWL and BRC-funded study to investigate risk factors for Sleep Disordered Breathing in opioid dependence, with previous research centred around the exploration of sleep architecture and the impact of pharmacological interventions on sleep in healthy subjects, and those with insomnia, depression and undergoing deep brain stimulation.
None of our research can be done without the support of our research volunteers. If you are interested in our research and would like to be involved in a study, either as a healthy volunteer, or as someone who suffers with drug and/or alcohol problems, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
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