Sandra Comer, PhD

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Overview

Dr. Sandra Comer is a Professor of Neurobiology in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University. She received her BS at Vanderbilt University and PhD at the University of Michigan for her research on the effects of drugs using preclinical models. Dr. Comer is Director of the Opioid Laboratory in the Division on Substance Use Disorders and her current research focus is on the clinical testing of medications for treating opioid use disorder, methods to maximize the use of naloxone by opioid users, and evaluations of the comparative abuse liability of prescribed pain medications. Dr. Comer served as President of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence, the longest standing scholarly society in the U.S. devoted to research on substance use disorders, and currently is the Public Policy Officer for CPDD. She joined the Expert Advisory Panel on Drug Dependence for the WHO and has over 150 publications on substance use disorders.

Academic Appointments

  • Professor of Neurobiology (in Psychiatry) at CUMC

Gender

  • Female

Research

For the past two decades, Dr. Comer has been investigating novel medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder. She developed a unique laboratory model of drug self-administration in human research volunteers in order to study the ability of potential treatment medications to reduce drug-taking behavior. Thus far, she has examined both agonist (buprenorphine, buprenorphine/naloxone) and antagonist opioid medications (depot naltrexone), as well as glutamate antagonists (memantine, dextromethorphan). Currently, she is studying glial cell modulators (pioglitazone, ibudilast, minocycline) and opioid vaccines as potential treatment medications. In addition to her search for medications that may be useful for treating opioid use disorder, Dr. Comer is currently studying the abuse liability of pain medications such as oxymorphone, oxycodone, and hydromorphone. She is also interested in studying the short- and long-term cognitive deficits that may occur followed opioid overdose.

Grants

NEURODEVELOPMENTAL OUTCOMES IN INFANTS RECEIVING OPIOID-REPLACEMENT PHARMACOTHERAPY FOR NEONATAL OPIOID WITHDRAWAL SYNDROME (Federal Gov)

Sep 23 2019 - Sep 22 2023

EVALUATION OF SAFETY AND PHARMACOKINETICS OF NALTREXONE IMPLANT (Federal Gov)

Sep 15 2018 - Aug 31 2023

MEDICATION DEVELOPMENT FOR OPIOD AND ALCOHOL LABORATORY STUDIES ON HUMAN (Federal Gov)

Jul 1 2017 - May 31 2021

AN ULTRA-LONG-ACTING ORAL TREATMENT FOR OPIOID USE DISORDER (Federal Gov)

Sep 15 2018 - Aug 31 2020

PHASE 1A/1B CLINICAL TRIALS OF MULTIVALENT OPIOID VACCINE (Federal Gov)

Sep 1 2019 - Aug 31 2020

VACCINES FOR FENTANYL AND ITS DERIVATIVES: A STRATEGY TO REDUCE ILLICIT USE AND OVERDOSE (Federal Gov)

Feb 1 2019 - Jan 31 2020

THE UTILITY OF A POLYETHYLENE GLYCOL LABELING PROCEDURE FOR IDENTIFYING FRAUDULENT URINE SAMPLES (P&S Industry Clinical Trial)

Nov 18 2013 - Nov 18 2018

RISK AND BENEFITS OF OVERDOSE EDUCATION AND NALOXONE PRESCRIBING TO HEROIN USERS (Federal Gov)

Sep 15 2014 - Feb 28 2018

SHARED PHARMACOTHERAPEUTIC STRATEGIES FOR CANNABINOID & OPIOID USE DISORDERS (Federal Gov)

Sep 1 2014 - Jun 30 2017

CERC-501: KAPPA ANTAGONIST FOR NICOTINE DEPENDENCE (Federal Gov)

May 1 2016 - Apr 30 2017

RISK AND BENEFITS OF OVERDOSE EDUCATION AND NALOXONE PRESCRIBING TO HEROIN USERS (Federal Gov)

Sep 15 2014 - Aug 31 2016

VACCINES FOR PRESCRIPTION OPIOD AND HEROIN ABUSE (Federal Gov)

Sep 1 2015 - Jul 31 2016

DYNAMIC CONTRAST-ENHANCED MRI TO MEASURE BLOOD-BRAIN BARRIER PERMEABILITY IN SUBSTANCE ABUSERS (Federal Gov)

Jul 1 2015 - Jun 30 2016

PIOGLITAZONE FOR THE TREATMENT OF OPIOD AND OF NICOTINE DEPENDENCE (Federal Gov)

Sep 30 2010 - Jun 30 2013

ADHERENCE TO BUPRENORPHINE/NALOXONE IN OPIOID DEPENDENT INDI VIDUALS AND ITS CORRELATES: AN EXPERIMENTAL STUDY ON INDIVID (Federal Gov)

Sep 20 2010 - Sep 19 2011

Selected Publications

  • Brandt, L., Jones, J.D., Martinez, S., Manubay, J.M., Mogali, S., Ramey, T., Levin, F.R., Comer, S.D.: Effects of lorcaserin on oxycodone self-administration and subjective responses in participants with opioid use disorder. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 208:107859, 2020. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2020.107859. Epub 2020 Jan 17. PMID: 31980285.
  • Comer, S.D., Manelli, P., Alam, D., Douaihy, A., Nangia, N., Akerman, S., Zavod, A., Silverman, B.L., Sullivan, M.A.: Transition from buprenorphine maintenance to extended-release naltrexone: A randomized clinical trial. (Am J Addict, In press).
  • Jones, J.D., Babalonis, S., Marcus, R., Vince, B., Kelsh, D., Lofwall, M.R., Fraser, H., Paterson, B., Martinez, S., Martinez, D., Nunes, E.V., Walsh, S.L., Comer, S.D.: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the selective kappa opioid receptor antagonist, CERC-501, in a human laboratory model of smoking behavior. (Addiction Biology, In press).
  • Levin, C.J., Wai, J.M., Jones, J.D., Comer, S.D.: Changes in cardiac vagal tone as measured by heart rate variability during naloxone-induced opioid withdrawal. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 204:1-7538, 2019. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2019.06.040. Epub 2019 Sep 3. PMID:31513980.
  • Pravetoni, M., Comer, S.D.: Development of vaccines to treat opioid use disorders and reduce incidence of overdose. Neuropharmacol 158:107662, 2019. Doi:10.1016/j.neuropharm.2019.06.001. Epub 2019 Jun 4. Review. PMID: 31173759.
  • Neale, J., Brown, C., Campbell, A.N.C., Jones, J.D., Metz, V.E., Strang, J., Comer, S.D: How competent are people who use opioids at responding to overdoses? Qualitative analyses of actions and decisions taken by lay first-responders during overdose emergencies. Addiction 114(4):708-718, 2019.
  • Comer, S.D. and Cahill, C.M.: Fentanyl: Receptor pharmacology, abuse potential, and implications for treatment. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 106:49-57, 2019. Doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2018.12.005. Epub 2018 Dec 5. Review. PMID:30528374.