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.

  • Mechanisms underlying dysfunctional glucose sensing and corrective measures to normalize it

    Hypoglycemia is the major limiting factor in intensive insulin therapy used in treating Type 1 and advanced Type 2 diabetes. Repeated hypoglycemia leads to failure of the corrective hormonal and behavioral mechanisms which restore euglycemia resulting in hypoglycemia associated autonomic failure (HAAF) and hypoglycemia unawareness, respectively. Both of these syndromes impair glucose sensing neurons. We are currently studying the mechanisms underlying this dysfunctional glucose sensing and identifying corrective measures which normalize both glucose sensing and the ability to restore euglycemia.

    For more information about this project, contact Dr. Vanessa Routh, routhvh@njms.rutgers.edu.

  • Mindfulness Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) as an Adjunct to Methadone Treatment for Opioid Use and Chronic Pain Management

    Mindfulness Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) as an Adjunct to Methadone Treatment for Opioid Use and Chronic Pain Management is a study funded through the NIH HEAL Initiative. The objective of this study is to rigorously examine the impact of MORE, delivered through telehealth, on opioid use and chronic pain among individuals receiving methadone maintenance treatment (MMT). The study is a randomized controlled trial (N=154) to test the efficacy of MORE, delivered by telehealth, on opioid use and chronic pain as compared to treatment as usual (TAU) among individuals in MMT. Participants in the MORE arm (n=77) attended up to 8 weekly, 2-hour online groups, with 7 people per group and their methadone TAU. Participants in the TAU arm (n=77) received methadone TAU. Outcomes include drug use, pain, stress, positive affect, and craving over 16 weeks.

    To inquire about data access, contact Dr. Nina Cooperman, Psy.D., cooperna@rwjms.rutgers.edu.

  • Mobile, Alabama pinned on map

    Mobile Youth Survey (MYS)

    The Mobile Youth Survey (MYS) was designed to identify the life course trajectories of adolescents (aged 10-18) living in poverty in the Mobile-Prichard inner city area of Alabama. The MYS was administered in a group-format between 1998-2011, and examined a number of psychosocial variables including risk behaviors (e.g., violence and agressive behavior, alcohol and drug use, sexual behavior), family factors (e.g., family structure and parental monitoring), and neighborhood factors (e.g., support from neighborhood). Over 12,000 youths enrolled in the MYS, producing nearly 36,000 annual data points. In 2008, DNA and more extensive phenotypic measures on a subsample of ~700 MYS participants ages 14-18 were collected. These youth were also part of a ‘natural experiment’ in which a random subset of families were relocated to better housing make possible by a government grant. The MYS sample is a unique resource for extending our understanding of the risks associated with identified genes, both in the sense that it is a largely African-American sample, an under-represented population in genetic studies, and an impoverished sample, making it possible to study how extreme environmental conditions, such as poverty, may alter the importance/expression of individual genetic predispositions and/or the role of other important environmental factors, such as family and peer variables.

    To inquire about working with the data, please contact Dr. Danielle Dick (Danielle.m.dick@rutgers.edu).

  • Multi-level gap analysis of treatment for HIV and OUD in New Jersey

    A multi-component examination of the HIV and OUD treatment landscape in NJ that includes a) geospatial syndemic analysis of county-level HIV and OD incidence, b) focus groups, and c) surveys to understand the barriers and facilitators to integrated HIV and OUD treatment.

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

  • Recovery

    The National Collegiate Recovery Program Study

    The National Collegiate Recovery Program Study provides a detailed picture of students participating in collegiate recovery programs (CRPs) at colleges and universities nation-wide. The purpose of this study is to understand participating students’ experiences by learning more about what aspects of CRPs are working well and what could be improved. It is our hope that the findings from this study will be used to tailor CRPs to better meet students’ complex needs. Four-year universities and community colleges with collegiate recovery programs were invited to be partners on this project. Schools were recruited through the Association of Recovery in Higher Education listservs and by word-of-mouth. Thirty-two universities from 12 states and one university from Canada served as recruitment sites. The number of participants per site ranged from 0 to 32; there are approximately 300 students participating in the project.

    To learn more about the study and/or to inquire about working with the data, please contact Dr. Danielle Dick (Danielle.m.dick@rutgers.edu).

  • Risk environment analysis to inform overdose education and naloxone distribution (OEND)

    This qualitative study explores the perspectives of people who use drugs to build a foundation for an OEND program that directly addresses the needs of people who are most affected by opioid overdose – people who use drugs.

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

  • Role of microglial exosomes in ethanol-induced stress hyper-response

    Approximately 2-5% of children born in the US have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). FASD patients are often vulnerable to psychiatric disorders including hyper-response to stress and anxiety and depressive behaviors. Preclinical and clinical studies identify microglia, one of the immune cells in the central nervous system, playing a major role in the alcohol-induced damage of stress regulatory neurons. Recent studies show that inflammatory molecules can be released in association with small extracellular vesicles like exosomes from microglia. Exosomes comprised of a lipid bilayer, transmembrane proteins and cytosolic components derived from their host cells. By employing proteomic and genomic measurements we are identifying the cargo molecules that are released from microglia following prenatal ethanol exposures. We are also evaluating the role of these molecules in apoptosis of in situ differentiated or in vivo neuronal cells, and in induction of stress axis abnormalities and anxiety-like behaviors. Due to the critical role of exosomes in intercellular communications with respect to cargo delivery to recipient cells, exosomes or synthetic exosome-mimics have been investigated as vectors for drug delivery. Hence, our investigations may help to develop novel therapeutic approaches employing exosomes to prevent stress and other psychiatric disorders in FASD patients. Postdoctoral fellowship is available.

    To enquire about the fellowship opportunity, please contact Dr. Dipak Sarkar, Dipak.Sarkar@rutgers.edu.

  • The role of glucose sensitivity of lateral hypothalamus orexin glucose-inhibited neurons in maintaining weight loss after dieting

    We are currently evaluating how changes in the glucose sensitivity of lateral hypothalamus orexin glucose-inhibited neurons as a result of weight loss leads to increased glutamate signaling in dopamine neurons of the ventral tegmental area. We hypothesize that these changes contribute to the difficulty maintaining weight loss after dieting.

    For more information about this project, contact Dr. Vanessa Routh, routhvh@njms.rutgers.edu.

  • Spit for Science

    Spit for Science: The VCU Student Survey (S4S) is a university-wide research registry with the goal of understanding pathways of risk (both genetic and environmental) for substance use and related mental health outcomes across the college years. From 2011-2015, all incoming freshmen age 18 or older were invited to participate in an on-line survey at the beginning of the fall semester of their first year, provide a saliva DNA sample, and complete follow-up surveys each spring semester thereafter. A new cohort of freshman began data collection in Fall 2021. Six cohorts of incoming freshman have been enrolled through the S4S pipeline thus far (N>12,000). Sample demographics do not differ significantly from the overall university study population: 17% identify as Asian; 17% identify as African American, 6% identify as Hispanic, 51% identify as Caucasian, 6% identify as more than 1 race, and 3% report other/unknown; 60% are female and 40% male.  All data are entered in a registry managed by the VCU Office of Research. All data are available broadly to all investigators with relevant research interests related to substance use and related behavioral health outcomes.

    To inquire about working with Spit for Science data, contact Dr. Danielle Dick (Danielle.m.dick@rutgers.edu).

  • Unintentional Substance Overdose Risk among Homeless and Housing Unstable Heroin Users in Washington Heights

    “Unintentional Substance Overdose Risk among Homeless and Housing Unstable Heroin Users in Washington Heights” is a community engaged mixed-methods study funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. This study examined overdose risk among people who use heroin in an under resourced community of color of NYC and documents the life experiences of participants seeking harm reduction services in this community.

    To inquire about the study, email Dr. Rafael E. Pérez-Figueroa, rp1196@sph.rutgers.edu.