Margaret Haney, Ph.D.

Dr. Margaret Haney is an Associate Professor of Clinical Neuroscience in the Department of Psychiatry at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, and a Research Scientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Haney received her undergraduate degree at Rutgers University (1985), and completed her graduate training at Tufts University, where she received a M.A. (1988) and a Ph.D. (1992) studying the effects of opioid drugs in animal models of stress and aggression in the laboratory of Dr. Klaus Miczek. Following graduate school, Dr. Haney completed a two year post-doctoral fellowship at the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médical (INSERM) in Bordeaux, France. There she received training in preclinical animal models of cocaine sensitization and self-administration in the laboratories of Dr. Pier V. Piazza and Dr. Pierre Mormède. In 1994, Dr. Haney returned to the United States to begin working at the Division of Substance Abuse at Columbia University. Here she received training in human preclinical studies under the mentorship of Dr. Marian Fischman and Dr. Richard Foltin. Since coming to Columbia, Dr. Haney has focussed on the consequences of chronic drug use, as well as the development and testing of novel approaches to the treatment of cocaine and marijuana dependence.


Current Research Activities:

Cocaine Pharmacotherapy
A primary focus of the Division of Substance Abuse is to investigate potential treatment medications for cocaine dependence using a human laboratory model. The basic tenet of this model is that in order to determine the potential utility of a medication for cocaine dependence, the effect of the medication on drug-taking must be studied directly. Given the role of dopamine in cocaine’s reinforcing effects, Dr. Haney has investigated the effect of selective dopamine receptor agonists and antagonists on a range of cocaine effects (self-administration, subjective ratings, cardiovascular measures). She and her colleagues have shown that D1 agonists may show promise as treatment medications by decreasing cocaine’s subjective effects, while D2 agonists appear to worsen craving for cocaine. Although acute administration of a D1 antagonist has been shown to decrease cocaine’s effects, Dr. Haney showed that chronic administration of a D1 antagonist increased cocaine’s reinforcing effects, demonstrating the importance of studying the effect of potential medications over time rather than just acutely. An ongoing study is testing a D2 partial agonist in the laboratory model. Dr. Haney and colleagues have also been investigating the effects of a cocaine vaccine, which may prove to be an effective treatment by decreasing the amount of cocaine that crosses the blood-brain barrier. Treatment approaches that act peripherally rather than centrally may decrease the side-effects and neuroadaptations that occur with centrally-acting treatment medications.

Marijuana Dependence
Dr. Haney and colleagues have developed a laboratory model demonstrating that daily marijuana smoking may result in the development of dependence, characterized by a time-dependent set of withdrawal symptoms (e.g., irritability, anxiety, muscle pain, decreased food intake) upon abstinence. They hypothesize that withdrawal symptoms may contribute to the poor treatment outcome observed when marijuana treatment seekers attempt to remain abstinent from marijuana. Dr. Haney and colleagues have investigated the effects of a range of medications (nefazodone, bupropion, divalproex, oral THC) on marijuana withdrawal symptoms. They found that nefazodone and oral THC significantly decreased marijuana withdrawal symptoms, while both bupropion and divalproex worsened mood during marijuana withdrawal. Future studies will determine the effects of nefazodone and oral THC on relapse to marijuana in abstinent individuals.

HIV and Cannabinoids
Dr. Haney is one of the few researchers in the country funded by the federal government to study the effects of smoked marijuana in a clinically relevant populations: HIV+ marijuana smokers. Specifically, her studies compare the efficacy of smoked marijuana to oral THC (Marinol®) for the treatment of appetite loss in individuals with HIV. The effects of these drugs across a range of behaviors are measured (food intake, psychomotor tasks, mood, drug effects, heart rate, blood pressure) in order to compare both the drugs’ efficacy with regard to appetite with their intoxicating and performance-impairing effects. Given that the majority of information regarding medical marijuana is anecdotal, the contribution of placebo-controlled, empirical data is essential.

Training Opportunities:

Dr. Haney has mentored undergraduates completing thesis projects, and contributes to the training of postdoctoral research funded through Dr. Herbert Kleber’s Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Recent Publications