News and Featured Research Papers - The Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Drug Abuse

Skip Navigation

Featured Research Papers

A figure from this study

A figure from this study

Featured paper of the Month!

December 2017 - Deletion of Type 2 Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor Decreases Sensitivity to Cocaine Reward in Rats.

Cell Rep. 2017 Jul 11;20(2):319-332. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.06.046.

Yang HJ, Zhang HY, Bi GH, He Y, Gao JT, Xi ZX.

The etiology and pathophysiology of drug addiction are still not well understood. In this research paper, we show that genetic deletion of mGluR2, a presynaptic glutamate autoreceptor, decreases sensitivity to cocaine reward that causes a compensatory increase in cocaine intake and a decrease in relapse to cocaine-seeking behavior in rats.

You can read more about this paper on PubMed.

Featured Paper Archives


Study Authors Leigh Panlilio and Zuzana Justinova
Study Authors Leigh Panlilio and Zuzana Justinova

Hot off the Press paper!

November 21, 2017 - Preclinical Studies of Cannabinoid Reward, Treatments for Cannabis Use Disorder, and Addiction-Related Effects of Cannabinoid Exposure

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2017 Aug 28. doi: 10.1038/npp.2017.193. [Epub ahead of print]

Panlilio, Leigh V;  Justinova, Zuzana

Cannabis use has become increasingly accepted socially and legally, for both recreational and medicinal purposes. Without reliable information about the effects of cannabis, people cannot make informed decisions regarding its use. Like alcohol and tobacco, cannabis can have serious adverse effects on health, and some people have difficulty discontinuing their use of the drug. Many cannabis users progress to using and becoming addicted to other drugs, but the reasons for this progression are unclear. The natural cannabinoid system of the brain is complex and involved in many functions, including brain development, reward, emotion, and cognition. Animal research provides an objective and controlled means of obtaining information about: (1) how cannabis affects the brain and behavior, (2) whether medications can be developed to treat cannabis use disorder, and (3) whether cannabis might produce lasting changes in the brain that increase the likelihood of becoming addicted to other drugs. This review explains the tactics used to address these issues, evaluates the progress that has been made, and offers some directions for future research.

You can read more about this paper on PubMed.

An illustration by the study author.

An illustration by the study author.

Hot off the Press paper!

The Anterior Insular Cortex→Central Amygdala Glutamatergic Pathway Is Critical to Relapse after Contingency Management.

Neuron. 2017 Oct 11;96(2):414-427.e8. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.09.024.

Venniro M, Caprioli D, Zhang M, Whitaker LR, Zhang S, Warren BL, Cifani C, Marchant NJ, Yizhar O, Bossert JM, Chiamulera C, Morales M, Shaham Y.

Despite decades of research on neurobiological mechanisms of psychostimulant addiction, the only effective treatment for many addicts is contingency management, a behavioral treatment that uses alternative non-drug reward to maintain abstinence. However, when contingency management is discontinued, most addicts relapse to drug use. The brain mechanisms underlying relapse after cessation of contingency management are largely unknown, and, until recently, an animal model of this human condition did not exist. Here we used a novel rat model, in which the availability of a mutually exclusive palatable food maintains prolonged voluntary abstinence from intravenous methamphetamine self-administration, to demonstrate that the activation of monosynaptic glutamatergic projections from anterior insular cortex to central amygdala is critical to relapse after the cessation of contingency management. We identified the anterior insular cortex-to-central amygdala projection as a new addiction- and motivation-related projection and a potential target for relapse prevention.

Read more about this paper on PubMed.

Hot off the Press Archives


Barry Hoffer
Dr. Jeremy P. Waletzky Event Report

Dr. Jeremy P. Waletzky was also honored at a special event at the NIDA IRP where he received a lifetime achievement award. Most of the previous winners of the Waletzky Award traveled from around the country to attend and discuss their research.


Barry Hoffer
Dr. Jeremy P. Waletzky Event

This event will take place at the NIDA IRP, in the Atrium of the Biomedical Research Center on the Johns Hopkins Bayview campus in Baltimore on November 9, 2017. The event will feature a variety of speakers discussing addiction and neuroscience well as an award presentation for Dr. Waletzky.

Full Event Schedule Here.

Barry Hoffer
Congratulations to the 2017 NIDA IRP Mentoring Award winners.

Award recipients are (left to right): Geoffrey Schoenbaum, MD, PhD (Investigator Award); Lindsay De Biase, PhD (Postdoctoral Fellow Award); and Karran Phillips, MD (Staff Clinician Award). They were presented with plaques at the 6th annual NIDA Poster Day and Mentoring Awards Ceremony on May 17, 2017. The Mentoring Awards recognize individuals who have served as exceptional mentors to trainees in the institute, and are given annually in the spring.

More about our Research Training program here.

Barry Hoffer
Barry J. Hoffer awarded Honorary Doctors of the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Helsinki

Dr. Barry J. Hoffer, the former Scientific Director of the NIDA IRP, has been awarded an Honorary Doctors of the Faculty of Philosophy from the University of Helsinki for his lifelong work in neuropharmacology. The Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Helsinki confers distinguished persons from the fields of science, culture and society as honorary doctors each year May. Angela Merkel was also among this year's award recipients.

Full Story Here.

Women Scientist Advisors Committee Logo

This year's winners at the NIDA IRP are Lindsay De Biase (Postdoctoral Fellow), Jayanthi Sankar (Staff Scientist) and Marisela Morales (Investigator). The winners were presented with trophies at the Biomedical Research Center this month.

Learn more about the Women Scientist Advisors Committee here.

Tsung-Ping Su

2016 Award for Sustainable Acquisitions - Individual
Dr. Da-Ting Lin has prioritized energy conservation, financial savings, and protecting both human and environmental health through his work.

Full Story Here.


Health and Human Services Logo National Institute on Drug Abuse Logo

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the principal biomedical and behavioral research agency of the United States Government. NIH is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

PDF documents require the free Adobe Reader. Microsoft Word documents require the free Microsoft Word viewer. Microsoft PowerPoint documents require the free Microsoft PowerPoint viewer. Flash content requires the free Adobe Flash Player.