Margaret Haney, Ph.D.

Dr. Margaret (Meg) Haney is a Professor of Neurobiology (in Psychiatry) at the Columbia University Medical Center, a Research Scientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Co-Director of the Substance Use Research Center. Dr. Haney received her undergraduate degree at Rutgers University (1985), and completed her graduate training (M.A., Ph.D.) at Tufts University studying the effects of opioid drugs in preclinical 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, where she received training in preclinical models of cocaine self-administration and sensitization in the laboratories of Dr. Pier V. Piazza and Dr. Pierre Mormède. In 1994, Dr. Haney began working at the Division of Substance Abuse at Columbia University where she received training in human laboratory studies under the mentorship of Dr. Marian Fischman and Dr. Richard Foltin.


Current Research Activities:

Many of our placebo-controlled, human laboratory studies focus on testing potential treatment medications for cannabis use disorder and cocaine use disorder. Our overarching hypothesis is that the best human laboratory model for predicting the potential clinical utility of a medication is whether it reduces drug self-administration.

Cannabis Use Disorder
We are interested in characterizing the consequences of heavy cannabis use and were one of the first to empirically demonstrate a time-dependent, pharmacologically-specific cannabis withdrawal syndrome. We have developed a residential laboratory model assessing the effects of potential treatment medications on cannabis withdrawal (e.g., irritability, disrupted sleep, decreased food intake) and relapse (i.e., cannabis self-administration after a period of abstinence). To date, nabilone, a synthetic THC analogue, has shown the most promise relative to a dozen other medications tested. Nabilone reduced cannabis withdrawal and relapse without producing significant intoxication or cognitive disruption.

Therapeutic Cannabinoids
We are also interested in conducting controlled clinical studies of the potential therapeutic effects of cannabis and its contituents. We have conducted separate placebo-controlled studies comparing smoked cannabis to oral THC (dronabinol) in HIV+ individuals and healthy volunteers, and have shown that both smoked cannabis and oral THC increase food intake and body weight in HIV+ participants and have analgesic properties in healthy volunteers. Oral THC produces longer-lasting effects for both endpoints, and has lower abuse liability than smoked cannabis. Ongoing studies are testing the effects of oral cannabidiol, a nonpsychoactive cannabis constituent, on smoked cannabis’ effects.

Cocaine Pharmacotherapy
We have investigated how dopamine receptor agonists, partial agonists and antagonists influence a range of smoked cocaine effects (self-administration, subjective ratings, cardiovascular measures); although a D1 agonist showed some promise, D2 agonists, partial agonists and D1 antagonists increased cocaine’s subjective and/or reinforcing effects. To date the most promising potential pharmacotherapy tested in our laboratory is modafinal; ongoing studies are testing the interaction between modafinal and genotype on the response to smoked cocaine. We have also tested a cocaine vaccine, showing that individuals who mount a sufficient antibody response show a marked reduction in the positive subjective response to smoked cocaine.

Training Opportunities:

Dr. Haney mentors undergraduates completing thesis projects and postdoctoral research fellows.

Recent Publications