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Research at the ECNRU

To participate in research call (404) 712-2014 or email inquiries to Malik at maobideen@emory.edu


Non-invasive Vagal Nerve Stimulation in Opioid Use Disorders

This study looks at non-invasive Vagal Nerve Stimulation (nVNS) in patients with Opioid Use Disorders (OUDs). Our prior studies showed that nVNS blocks sympathetic responses to traumatic scripts in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Patients with OUDs in withdrawal, similar to PTSD patients, have increased peripheral sympathetic nervous system function that leads to withdrawal symptoms, like racing heart, dry mouth, anxiety, pale dry skin, and so on. By blocking this response we hope to aleviated withdrawal and promote recovery. We are looking for OUD patients in withdrawal, either seeking treatment or otherwise. There are two studies, both involving nVNS compared to a sham stimulation while viewing videos of using opioids, one involves measurement of autonomic function, the other brain imaging and measurement of biomarkers in blood.

Dopamine Function, Inflammation and Connectivity in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

This study uses High-Resolution Positron Emission Tommography (HR-PET) in patients with PTSD exposed to scripts of traumatic memories to look at release of dopamine in the brain. We also correlate activity in the brain using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and biomarkers in the blood related to inflammation. There are two scan days. Dopamine plays an important role in reward systems in the brain and this study will help us understand the neurobiology of traumatic memories which will help develop new treatments.

Non-invasive Vagal Nerve Stimulation in Veterans with Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

This study looks at non-invasive Vagal Nerve Stimulation (nVNS) in veterans with co-morbid Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) and PTSD. mTBI and PTSD occur together in about half of veterans with these conditions who were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. We are looking to see if nVNS blocks sympathetic responses to traumatic scripts and improves memory function in veterans with mTBI and PTSD. We are looking for veterans with mTBI and PTSD for a study involving nVNS compared to a sham stimulation while listening to traumatic scripts with brain imaging and measurement of blood biomarkers, followed by three months of twice daily home treatment with nVNS or a sham, followeda repeat of the study procedures. We are developing nVNS as a treatment for these conditions.

Myocardial Ischemia and Mental Stress (MIMS-2)

This study in collaboration with Department of Cardiology and Rollins School of Public Health is examinging stress-related factors that contribute to heart disease. We are looking for patients with diagnosed heart disease to undergo a mental stress task, which involves public speaking and problem solving, to see how stress affects the heart. We look at blood biomarkers and do heart scans during the testing sessions.