Lauren V. Moran, MD, MPH
Director, McLean Pharmacoepidemiology Laboratory
Psychiatrist in Charge, Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder Inpatient Program, Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder Research Program
- Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
Lauren V. Moran, MD, MPH, is the director of the McLean Pharmacoepidemiology Laboratory, part of the Advanced Bioinformatics and Computational Discovery Hub. She is also an attending psychiatrist with the Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder Inpatient Program.
Dr. Moran’s research currently focuses evaluating the role of prescription stimulants in the development of psychotic disorders. She also conducts research on understanding the neurobiology of high rates of nicotine dependence in patients with schizophrenia.
Dr. Moran’s current research centers around pharmacoepidemiology, with a specific focus on risk of psychosis with prescription stimulants. Her research uses real-world evidence from clinical care of patients, utilizing large data sources reflecting clinical practice, such as insurance claims data and electronic health records.
Moran’s early work focused on the neural basis of nicotine dependence in schizophrenia using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Using resting state functional connectivity, she identified that connectivity between the dorsal anterior cingulate (dACC) and insular cortex was decreased in association with increasing severity in non-psychiatrically ill smokers and smokers with schizophrenia. These finding suggest that the fundamental mechanisms of nicotine dependence are biologically similar.
In a related study, Moran found that functional connectivity between dACC and limbic regions, including the insula, was decreased in control smokers and smokers with schizophrenia, compared to healthy non-smokers. Her studies also found a decrease in functional connectivity between dACC and limbic regions in non-smokers with schizophrenia and first-degree non-psychotic relatives of schizophrenia patients. This work suggests that pathology associated with schizophrenia overlaps that of nicotine dependence and may, in part, explain the increased rates of nicotine use disorders in schizophrenia.
Moran has conducted further research on nicotine dependence and schizophrenia. Through this work, she has tried to understand the role of cue reactivity, cognitive function, and reward processing in the maintenance of nicotine addiction. She has published the novel finding that smokers with schizophrenia exhibited decreased neural reactivity in anterior cingulate and midline frontal regions to smoking cues compared to neutral cues.
More recently, Moran conducted a study in patients with psychotic disorders and reported the finding that use of prescription stimulants in childhood and adolescence prior to the onset of psychosis is associated with an earlier onset of psychosis after controlling for relevant confounders. Building on that work, Moran and her colleagues conducted the first cohort study demonstrating that prescription amphetamines are associated with an increased risk of psychosis in adolescents and young adults with ADHD.
- Joseph Skinner, Clinical Research Assistant
Moran LV, Tagamets MA, Sampath H, O’Donnell A, Stein EA, Kochunov P, Hong LE. Disruption of anterior insula modulation of large scale brain networks in schizophrenia. Biological Psychiatry, 2013;74(6):467-74.
Moran LV, Masters GA, Pingali S, Cohen BM, Liebson E, Ongur D. Prescription stimulant use is associated with earlier onset of psychosis. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 2015;71; 41-47.
Moran LV, Ongur D, Hsu J, Castro VM, Perlis RH, Schneeweiss S. Psychosis with methylphenidate or amphetamine in patients with ADHD. New England Journal of Medicine, 2019;380(12):1128-1138.
Education & Training
- 1997 BA, Columbia College
- 2003 MD, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
- 2021 MPH in Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
- 2007-2010 General Adult Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
- 2010-2012 Academic Fellow in Multidisciplinary Schizophrenia Clinical Research (T32), Maryland Psychiatric Research Center University of Maryland
- 2012-2013 Research Fellow, Center for Addiction Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital
- 2012 Medical License, Board of Registration in Medicine, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
- 2013 Psychiatry, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology