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McLean researchers

Preclinical Pharmacology Program

The Preclinical Pharmacology Program, founded in 1997, investigates the behavioral effects of therapeutic and recreational drugs. We work with both established drugs and new compounds that are either scientific tools or have been developed with a therapeutic goal in mind.

Our studies incorporate rigorous methodology to examine pharmacological mechanisms and to evaluate behavioral effects of drugs that are relevant to their therapeutic or recreational use in a controlled laboratory setting. Our research translates from the bench to (nearly) the bedside. For example, we study the ways that drug use impairs or enhances subjects’ performance on cognitive tasks relating to learning, memory, vigilance, and impulsivity. Our medications-related work is designed to evaluate both the potential benefits of new therapies as well as the impairments that can result from their use.

Most recently, much of our effort has centered on drug addiction. We aim to better understand the reinforcing effects of drugs that contribute to addiction and also develop medications for managing drug dependence.