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Barbara Mason, Ph.D.

Pearson Family Chair
Professor
Director, Laboratory of Clinical Psychopharmacology
Co-Director, Pearson Center for Alcoholism and Addiction Research
Committee On The Neurobiology Of Addictive Disorders
California Campus
Laboratory Website
mason@scripps.edu
(858) 784-7324

Other Joint Appointments

Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego
Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Miami School of Medicine

Research Focus

Research Description

The focus of the research programs in Dr. Mason’s Laboratory of Clinical Psychopharmacology is the clinical evaluation of potential medications for protracted abstinence and relapse prevention in alcohol dependence and related disorders such as nicotine and cannabis dependence. Research projects range from proof-of-concept early phase human laboratory studies to long-term, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical efficacy studies. A critical aspect of the conceptual framework under which the Laboratory of Clinical Psychopharmacology is predicated is the dynamic feedback from the research findings of pre-clinical and clinical studies, which are designed to streamline information and provide converging evidence for ultimate clinical use. The critical conceptual framework is that the pre-clinical animal studies will inform the clinical laboratory studies, and the clinical laboratory studies will in turn inform the pre-clinical animal studies to further refine basic research involving animal models and the neuropharmacological approach. This approach has identified neuropharmacological domains that are currently being translated into long-term clinical efficacy studies.

Future Research Plans

Future research will include continued human laboratory studies to rapidly screen potential relapse prevention medications and clinical trials to evaluate the safety and efficacy of novel medications to prevent relapse and reduce symptoms of protracted abstinence in outpatients with alcohol dependence or cannabis dependence.

Education

Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Long Island University, 1983
B.F.A., Bachelor of Fine Arts, Pratt Institute, 1972

Professional Experience

2006-present   Professor, Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders; The Scripps Research Institute
2003-present   Director, Laboratory of Clinical Psychopharmacology, The Scripps Research Institute
2003-present   Co-Director, Pearson Center for Alcoholism and Addiction Research, The Scripps Research Institute
2003-2006       Professor, Molecular and Integrative Neurosciences Department (formerly the Department of 
                        Neuropharmacology), The Scripps Research Institute
2000-2003       Professor with Tenure, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Miami School   
                        of Medicine
1997-2000       Associate Professor with Tenure, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences; University of
                        Miami School of Medicine
1993-2003       Director, Division of Substance Abuse, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of
                        Miami School of Medicine
1991-1997       Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Miami School of
                        Medicine
1990-1991       Chief, Alcohol Disorders Clinic, Department of Psychiatry, New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center
1987-1991       Assistant Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychiatry, Cornell University Medical College
1984-1987       Instructor of Psychology, Department of Psychiatry, Cornell University Medical College
1981-1984       Research Associate, Department of Psychiatry, Cornell University Medical College
1981-1984       Assistant Professor of Psychology, Long Island University
1980-1984       Psychology Intern, Roosevelt Hospital-St. Lukes Medical Center

Awards & Professional Activities

Path to Recovery Hero; Parents for Addiction Treatment and Healing; State of California Senate Recognition; 2009

Weill Cornell Alumni Award; 2009

The Pearson Family Chair; an endowed chair in alcoholism and addiction research at The Scripps Research Institute; 2007

Elected Fellow; American College of Neuropsychopharmacology; 2005

MERIT Award for Medication Development; National Institutes of Health (NIH); 2003

Dean’s Senior Clinical Research Award; Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Miami School of Medicine; 1999-2000

Teacher-Scientist Award; Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Cornell University Medical College; 1989-1991

Selected References

Crean, R.D., Crane, N.A., Mason, B.J.  An evidence-based review of acute and long-term effects of cannabis use on executive cognitive functions. Journal of Addiction Medicine; 2011; 5:1-8

Koob, G.F., Lloyd, G.K., Mason, B.J.  Development of pharmacotherapies for drug addiction: a Rosetta stone approach. Nature Reviews. Drug Discovery; 2009; 8:500-515

Mason, B.J., Light, J.M., Williams, L.D., Drobes, D.J.  Proof-of-concept human laboratory study for protracted abstinence in alcohol dependence: effects of gabapentin. Addiction Biology; 2009; 14:73-83

Note:  This paper is part of a special issue of Addiction Biology co-edited by Dr. Mason devoted to human laboratory approaches to addiction research.

Mason, B.J., Light, J.M., Escher, T., Drobes, D.J.  Effect of positive and negative affective stimuli and beverage cues on measures of craving in non treatment-seeking alcoholics. Psychopharmacology; 2008; 200:141-150

Mason, B.J., Goodman, A.M., Chabac, S., Lehert, P.  Effect of oral acamprosate on abstinence in patients with alcohol dependence in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial: the role of patient motivation. Journal of Psychiatric Research; 2006; 40:383-393

Note:  This 21-site study was conducted in support of FDA approval for acamprosate (Campral) treatment of alcohol dependence. Dr. Mason served as overall PI and was instrumental in the design of the protocol and counseling materials, which are available at www.alcoholfree.info.

Mason, B.J., Goodman, A.M., Dixon, R.M., Abdel Hameed, M.H., Hulot, T., Wesnes, K., Hunter, J.A, Boyeson, M.G.  A pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic drug interaction study of acamprosate and naltrexone. Neuropsychopharmacology; 2002; 27:596-606

Note:  This was the first interaction study of these two new medications for alcohol dependence.

Mason, B.J., Salvato, F.R., Williams, L.D., Ritvo, E.C., Cutler, R.B.  A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of oral nalmefene for alcohol dependence. Archives of General Psychiatry; 1999; 56:719-724

Note:   NIH chose this project for presentation by Dr. Varmus, Director of NIH, to the U.S. Congress as a pivotal study of 1999.

Mason, B.J., Kocsis, J.H., Ritvo, E.C., Cutler, R.B.  A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of desipramine in primary alcohol dependence stratified on the presence or absence of major depression. Journal of the American Medical Association; 1996; 275:761-767

Note:  This project was chosen by the American Medical Association (AMA) to be the lead article in JAMA and was the focus of an AMA media briefing. This work was described by Alan Gelenberg, M.D., in the Biological Therapies in Psychiatry Newsletter as “a landmark work of major public health significance.”

Links

Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders

Pearson Center for Alcoholism and Addiction Research

AlcoholFree.info