On this page you will find a collection of active addiction-related projects ongoing across Rutgers. Learn about on-going research projects and datasets available for analysis. Contact information for each project listed below is provided.

If you are interested in hosting your project on this page, please email rarc@bhi.rutgers.edu with your project details.

  • Enhancement and Expansion of the C3I Program to develop tobacco cessation treatment capacity and infrastructure for cancer patients

    The goal of this project is to improve tobacco treatment at comprehensive cancer centers.

    To inquire about this project, please contact Dr. Michael Steinberg, steinbmb@rutgers.edu (P30CA072720; PI Libutti).

  • Evaluating Cigarette Relighting Behavior: Prevalence, Correlates, Toxicant Exposure, and Implications for Cessation

    The goals of this study are to: 1) describe the prevalence, frequency of, and reasons for cigarette relighting behaviors among smokers, 2) characterize effects of relighting on smoke toxicant deliveries and subjective smoking measures, and 3) investigate the potential impact of relighting on tobacco treatment delivery and cessation.

    To inquire about this project, please contact Dr. Michael Steinberg, steinbmb@rutgers.edu (R01CA260831-01-A1; MPI Steinberg, M.B./Heckman, C./Stepanov, I.).


    FELONY WOMEN is a multi-site and multi-temporal ethnography of women in conflict with the law. Using an interdisciplinary feminist theoretical framework focusing on critical and feminist criminology with other feminist approaches in geography and health, the research has one overall purpose: to reveal how women in conflict with the law make meaning of their lives across time and place through systems and experiences of oppression and resistance. The research returns to the same group of women more than a decade after my ethnography of their incarceration and reentry in a correctional halfway house. It weaves together women’s pathways to drugs and crime, their incarceration experience, and post imprisonment life to show how patterns of harm and the ways women cope are revealed across the lifetime in all spheres of life. It positions women as agents of change and details interconnections of the women’s identity markers such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and age.

    For more information, contact Dr. Gail Caputo, gcaputo@rutgers.edu.

  • The Finnish Twin Studies

    FinnTwin16 (FT16) and FinnTwin12 (FT12) are two population-based twin studies aimed at understanding how genetic and environmental influences impact the development of alcohol use and related behaviors across adolescence and into young adulthood. All twins were identified through Finland’s Central Population Registry, permitting exhaustive and unbiased ascertainment of all twins born in the country across 10 birth, for a total of ~10,000 twins and their families. FT16 has questionnaire assessments at ages 16, 17, 18.5, and in the mid-20s. These questionnaires contain items on alcohol use, smoking, other drug use, personality, and related health habits and environmental factors. A subset of the twins highly concordant or discordant for alcohol use in adolescence (~600 twins) also completed psychiatric interviews, DNA collection, electrophysiological measures, and neuropsychological testing at the mid-20s assessment. FT12 first assessed children at age 12, with follow-ups at age 14, 17, and in the young 20s. FT12 contains rich data from the twins, parents, teachers, and peers. A subset (~1850 twins and their parents) also completed psychiatric interviews at ages 14 and 22. GWAS data for this subset are also available.

    To inquire about data access, email Dr. Danielle Dick, danielle.m.dick@rutgers.edu and Dr. Jessica Salvatore, jessica.salvatore@rutgers.edu.

  • Genetic predisposition to cocaine addiction

    This project aims to understand the role of a Parkinson’s disease gene, PARK20/SYNJ1, in regulating cocaine tolerance in mice. Through collaboration with Drs. David Barker and Ron Hart, we investigate by using imaging, bioinformatics and behavioral analyses.

    To inquire about this project, please contact Dr. Pingyue Pan, pingyue.pan@rutgers.edu.

  • The influence of e-cigarette advertisement on tobacco use among young adults

    Young adults’‚ initiation and use of e-cigarettes are on the rise in the U.S. E-cigarette use produces toxicants, is addictive, and is associated with future use of combustible tobacco products among young adults. The situation is compounded by aggressive e-cigarette marketing, which often features flavors, models, marketing claims, and price promotions. The proposed project will examine the influence of four e-cigarette advertisement features (flavors, models, marketing claims etc) using eye-tracking and in-depth interview methods among young adults of various tobacco use statuses.

    To inquire about the study, email Dr. Julia Chen-Sankey, jc.sankey@rutgers.edu.

  • Integrated Treatment for Co-Occurring Opioid Use Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

    This project will test whether augmenting medications for opioid use disorder (OUD) with an adapted, trauma-focused, integrated behavioral treatment for substance use disorders and co-occurring PTSD (i.e., Concurrent Treatment of PTSD and Substance Use Disorders Using Prolonged Exposure; COPE) will enhance clinical outcomes. The investigators will modify the existing 12-week, COPE intervention to individuals with OUD and PTSD using an iterative process informed by provider and patient feedback. They will then conduct an open-label trial (n = 5) to further refine and finalize the treatment protocol. Finally, they will test COPE combined with medications for OUD (MOUD) versus MOUD-only in a randomized clinical trial among 76 individuals with OUD and PTSD to evaluate feasibility and preliminary efficacy in reducing opioid use and PTSD severity. Both groups will complete ecological momentary assessments (EMA) to assess for daily opioid use, craving, and PTSD symptoms. EMA will allow for assessment for the associations between daily PTSD symptoms and opioid craving and use, which may then inform treatment development.

    To inquire about this project, please contact Dr. Tanya Saraiya, tanya.saraiya@rutgers.edu

  • Investigating Vasoactive Intestinal Polypeptide (VIP) Neurons as Therapeutic Targets for Modulating Drinking

    Dysfunction of stress-related neuroendocrine and autonomic arousal pathways are highly associated with alcohol-related behaviors. Repeated alcohol use increases arousal. Moreover, higher arousal levels in treatment-seeking AUD patients correlates with higher rates of relapse. These findings suggest reciprocal interactions between arousal and alcohol use, such that higher basal arousal promotes alcohol drinking, which further exacerbates arousal. A challenge in understanding the neurobiological mechanisms mediating interactions between arousal and drinking is the lack of preclinical animal models that allow quantification of drinking together with longitudinal measurement of arousal and neuronal activity. We addressed this by designing a voluntary ethanol consumption paradigm for head-fixed mice combined with two-photon calcium imaging for neuronal activity recordings and pupillometry for measuring arousal. Our experiments suggest that the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) subdivision of the prefrontal cortex potently increases arousal. Basal levels of arousal and arousal-related ACC activity are correlated with the amount of ethanol consumption, suggesting that the ACC contributes to arousal modulation of drinking. Cortical activity is critically shaped by inhibition from local interneurons. The vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) expressing interneurons are particularly important as they inhibit other interneurons, leading to disinhibitory excitation of the ACC. We are testing the hypothesis that ACC VIP neurons are a key node for reciprocal interactions between arousal and ethanol consumption. Our mechanistic studies may establish VIP neurons as a key therapeutic target for modulating drinking driven by aberrant arousal.

    To inquire about this project, please contact Dr. Rafiq Huda, rafiq.huda@rutgers.edu.

  • Leveraging large-scale administrative claims data to evaluate prescription opioid use, risks, and outcomes in older adults living with HIV

    This project leverages existing administrative claims data from Medicare beneficiaries ≥65 years of age from 2007-2018 to determine how prescription opioid use affects health outcomes and health care utilization in older people living with HIV.

    To inquire about this project, please email Dr. Stephanie Shiau, stephanie.shiau@rutgers.edu.

  • Linking psychometric and multimodal neural measures of socioemotional functioning to early antisocial behavior and environmental risk

    Little is known about the mechanisms that confer risk for antisocial behavior during adolescence, as previous studies have focused on small, non-representative samples, and further research to determine these mechanisms is needed to improve methods of treatment and prevention. Socioemotional functioning (SEF)-reflecting ones ability to orient to and appropriately respond to emotional cues from others- is a promising candidate mechanism for mitigating the onset of antisocial behavior and developing targeted treatments. This project uses multimodal (self, parent, and teacher-report, neuroimaging, census) data from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study and ABCD-Social Development substudy to improve measurement of SEF at the phenotypic and neural level, linking individual differences in SEF to antisocial behavior and environmental risk and protective factors.

    To inquire about this project, please contact Dr. Sarah Brislin, sarah.brislin@rutgers.edu (R21 MH126130).

  • Long-acting buprenorphine vs naltrexone opioid treatments in CJS-involved adults (EXIT-CJS)

    This multi-site randomized clinical trial will evaluate extended-release buprenorphine vs. extended-release naltrexone vs. standard of care medications for opioid use disorder in individuals leaving incarceration or with a recent history of criminal justice involvement.

    To inquire about this project, please contact Dr. Amesika Nyaku, amesika.nyaku@rutgers.edu.