Medication Development Research Center at the Division on Substance Use Disorders

The Medication Development Research Center is a modern addiction pharmacotherapy research program that has been continuously funded by NIDA for more than twenty years. Over time the focus of the research conducted at the Center has evolved to reflect the latest scientific developments and to meet the changing public health needs.

The Center is focusing on pharmacologic approaches that might be effective for more than one substance use disorder that share underlying neurophysiologic features. At present, work at the center is focusing on disorders with most urgent needs, which are Opioid and Cannabis Use Disorders. Current research projects utilize the latest methodological approaches in addition to developing innovative methods to find potential pharmacologic agents to treat substance use disorders. The Center has been able to attract highly qualified scientists from both biomedical and behavioral disciplines and trains promising new investigators who are committed to the task of finding more efficacious medications to treat substance use disorders.

The Center is designed to support a synergistic and translational approach which is at the cutting edge of medications development. In its current form, the Center includes the three Cores and three Projects which are connected with considerable synergy and interdependency. Cores form a unifying infrastructure to support Projects. The Projects focus on specific research goals.

The Administrative Core provides the necessary backbone to ensure the efficient running of the Center. The Pilot Project Core provides support for pilot projects to promote innovative and exploratory research in a rapid manner to move the field forward. The Training and Education Core provides support for all training and educational activities related to the Center and creates opportunities to develop new integrative educational programs and initiatives. 

The Center Projects conduct work in specific research areas. Project 1 involves human laboratory studies with the primary aim to characterize the subjective and reinforcing effects of marijuana in nontreatment-seeking, daily cannabis users, and to test the effects of potential treatment medications on these behavioral outcomes. Project 2 involves clinical treatment trials testing new pharmacotherapies in participants with Cannabis Use Disorder. Project 3 involves human laboratory studies with the primary aim to investigate the pharmacological and behavioral factors affecting opioid abuse in humans and to develop new pharmacotherapies for Opioid Use Disorder.


Frances R. Levin M.D.