Research

Research

F. Gerard Moeller, M.D., is a leading researcher who brings more than a decade of experience to the Institute of Drug and Alcohol Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. His expertise includes the areas of impulsivity and addiction, brain imaging and clinical trials.

Impulsivity and addiction

The IDAS translational research team has worked to show that impulsivity is a key factor in development and maintenance of addictions. In 2001, Moeller published the most widely used definition of impulsivity.

When Moeller began this research, the role of impulsivity in drug addiction was understudied. Over the last 15 years, he has studied impulsivity in animal and human models and has carried out clinical trials of medication for impulsivity and drug addiction.

Related publications:

  • Moeller, F.G., Barratt, E.S., Dougherty, D.M., Schmitz, J.M., Swann, A.C. Psychiatric aspects of impulsivity. American Journal of Psychiatry 158:1783-1793, 2001.
  • Moeller, F.G., Schmitz, J.M., Steinberg, J.L., Green, C.M., Reist, C., Lai, L.Y., Swann, A.C., Grabowski, J. Citalopram combined with behavioral therapy reduces cocaine use: A double-blind placebo controlled trial. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 2007;33(3):367-78.
  • Lane S.D., Moeller, F.G., Steinberg, J.L., Buzby, M., Kosten, T.R. Performance of cocaine dependent individuals and controls on a response inhibition task with varying levels of difficulty. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 2007;33(5):717-26.
  • Kjome, K.L., Lane, S.D., Schmitz, J.M., Green, C., Ma, L., Prasala, I., Swann, A.C., Moeller, F.G. Relationship between impulsivity and decision making in cocaine dependence. Psychiatry Research 2010 Jul 30;178(2):299-304.

Brain imaging

Moeller has also led a translational research team using brain imaging to study addictions. The initial studies using diffusion tensor imaging showed that cocaine-addicted individuals had evidence of altered white matter function that was related to impaired impulse control.

Later preclinical studies showed that cocaine administration was directly associated with DTI changes in rodents and altered expression of myelin basic protein. More recent studies using dynamic causal modeling have confirmed altered effective connectivity in cocaine-dependent individuals.

IDAS has extended this research to study effects of comorbid traumatic brain injury on brain structure in substance abuse, in collaboration with a Department of Defense-funded research team at VCU.

Related publications:

  • Moeller, F.G, Hasan, K.M., Steinberg, J.L., Kramer, L.A., Dougherty, D.M., Santos, R.M., Valdes, I, Swann, A.C., Barratt, E.S., Narayana, P.A. Reduced Anterior Corpus Callosum White Matter Integrity is related to Increased Impulsivity and Reduced Discriminability in Cocaine Dependent Subjects: Diffusion Tensor Imaging. Neuropsychopharmacology Mar;30(3):610-7, 2005.
  • Narayana, P.A., Ahobila-Vajjula, P., Ramu, J., Herrera, J., Steinberg, J.L., Moeller, F.G. Diffusion tensor imaging of cocaine treated rodents. Psychiatry Research Neuroimaging 2009 Mar 31;171(3):242-51.
  • Narayana, P.A., Herrera, J.J., Bockhorst, K.H., Esparza-Coss, E., Xia, Y., Steinberg, J.L., Moeller, F.G. Chronic cocaine administration causes extensive white matter damage in brain: Diffusion tensor imaging and immunohistochemistry studies. Psychiatry Research 2014 Jan 23. pii: S0925-4927(14)00006-7. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2014.01.005. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Ma, L., Steinberg, J.L., Cunningham, K.A., Lane, S.D., Bjork, J.M., Neelakantan, H., Price, A.E., Narayana, P.A., Kosten, T.R., Bechara, A., Moeller, F.G. Inhibitory behavioral control: A stochastic dynamic causal modeling study comparing cocaine dependent subjects and controls. NeuroImage (In press).
  • Ma, L., Steinberg, J.L., Keyser-Marcus, L., Ramesh, D., Narayana, P.A., Merchant, R.E., Moeller, F.G., Cifu, D.X. Altered white matter in cocaine-dependent subjects with traumatic brain injury: a diffusion tensor imaging study. Drug and Alcohol Dependence (In press).

Clinical trials

Moeller has extensive experience with clinical trials, including clinical trials carried out in Clinical and Translational Science Award-funded research hubs including the University of Texas Houston Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences and the UT Medical Branch Institute for Translational Sciences. He also has extensive experience with outpatient phase II and III clinical trials funded by the National Institutes of Health and the pharmaceutical industry.

Related publications:

  • Moeller, F.G., Steinberg, J.L., Lane, S.D., Kjome, K.L., Ma, L., Ferre, S., Schmitz, J., Green, C.E., Bandak, S.I., Renshaw, P.F., Kramer, L.A., and Narayana, P.A. Increased orbitofrontal brain activation after administration of a selective adenosine A2A antagonist in cocaine dependent subjects. Frontiers in Psychiatry 2012;3:44.
  • De La Garza, R. 2nd, Bubar, M.J., Carbone, C.L., Moeller, F.G., Newton, T.F., Anastasio, N.C., Harper, T.A., Ware, D.L., Fuller, M.A., Holstein, G.J., Jayroe, J.B., Bandak, S.I., Reiman, K.Z., Neale, A.C., Pickford, L.B., Cunningham, K.A. Evaluation of the dopamine β-hydroxylase (DβH) inhibitor nepicastat in participants who meet criteria for cocaine use disorder. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry 2015 Jan 17;59C:40-48 PMID: 25602710
  • Schmitz, J.M., Mooney, M.E., Moeller, F.G., Stotts, A.L., Green, C., Grabowski, J. Levodopa Pharmacotherapy for Cocaine Dependence: Choosing the Optimal Behavioral Therapy Platform. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 2008 Apr 1;94(1-3):142-50.
  • Green, C.E., Moeller, F.G., Schmitz, J.M., Lucke, J.F., Lane, S.D., Swann, A.C., Lasky, R.E., Carbonari, J.P., Tyson, J.E. Evaluation of Heterogeneity in Pharmacotherapy Trials for Drug Dependence: A Bayesian Approach. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 2009;35(2):95-102.

See more of Moeller’s publications.