I am a behavioral neuropharmacologist with research interest in the areas of drug abuse, impulsivity, brain dopamine receptor function and nonhuman primate models of human disease. I have been working with catheterized nonhuman primate models for nearly 35 years and with brain imaging (PET and MRI) for over 25 years. My research examines individual differences in drug effects, highlighting sex differences, social rank and drug history as important organismal variables that influence outcome.
My laboratory uses models of drug self-administration, drug discrimination, schedule-controlled behavior, models of cognition and the study of physiological consequences to chronic drug treatment using telemetry devices to examine the behavioral effects of drugs of abuse, primarily focusing on cocaine but also examining nicotine, THC, oxycodone and methamphetamine.
For over two decades, my laboratory has utilized an extremely novel animal model involving nonhuman primate social behavior and intravenous drug self-administration. The original studies involving socially housed male monkeys were recognized with a MERIT Award from NIDA. My research is also examining the effects of novel cholinergic compounds on age-related cognitive decline and sleep in aged (>20 years old) female and male monkeys.
I have been at Wake Forest School of Medicine (WFSM) since 1992 and have mentored 4 post-doctoral fellows, 11 PhD students and 2 MS students; have served on 26 dissertation committees; and have had over 60 graduate students participate in laboratory rotations. I am past director of the graduate program in physiology and pharmacology, past chair of the Dean's Research Advisory Committee, the current director of the Nonhuman Primate Imaging of Behavior Program, and the director of the Center for Research on Substance Use and Addiction. I was the recipient of the Wake Forest School of Medicine Mid- (2006) and Established- (2012) Career awards and the 2015 College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) Mentorship Award.