Jermaine Jones , Ph.D.

Dr. Jones is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Neuroscience in the Department of Psychiatry at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. He received his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology with the Psychopharmacology Laboratory at American University. While at American, Dr. Jones’ research utilized pharmacological and transgenic methodologies to better understand the contribution of monoamine transporter inhibition to the aversive subjective effects of cocaine. In 2011 he completed his postdoctoral training with Columbia’s Division on Substance Abuse. Working under Dr. Sandra Comer, he studied the behavioral pharmacology of opioids in clinical populations. His general research interest involves factors contributing to the abuse liability of opioids. Specifically, how genes mediate vulnerability to opioid abuse.


Current Research Activities:

Effects of Pioglitazone on the Abuse Liability of Oxycodone

Activation of glial cells by opioids is thought to play a significant role in opioid-induced reward, tolerance and dependence. As a result, a number of glial inhibitors are under investigation as potential pharmacotherapies for opioid abuse and dependence. Peroxisome proliferator-activated gamma receptor (PPARγ) agonists have been shown to inhibit the expression of proinflammatory molecules by monocytes/macrophages and to have similar effects on microglia. Recent preclinical studies have found that pioglitazone and other PPARγ agonists are capable of preventing the acquisition of heroin self-administration and stress-induced reinstatement of heroin seeking, as well as reducing the development of morphine tolerance and opioid withdrawal severity. This laboratory study seeks to discover if pioglitazone is able to alter the effects of opioids in humans. More specifically, in a population of prescription opioid abusers, characterize the subjective, analgesic, cognitive, and physiological effects of oxycodone under maintenance on various doses of pioglitazone. These findings should determine if pioglitazone interacts with oxycodone, and reveal any therapeutic potential of this drug for the treatment of opioid abuse and dependence.

Effectiveness of Naloxone Distribution Programs in New York City
Opioid overdose is a significant cause of mortality. In New York City, an estimated 900 opioid users die from overdose each year. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that has long been administered by trained medical personnel during emergency resuscitation following a suspected opioid overdose. In an effort to increase effective medical intervention when witnessing opioid overdose, a number of states (including New York) are implementing programs in which drug users and laypersons likely to witness an overdose are provided brief instruction in recognizing the signs of opioid overdose and how to provide first aid, including naloxone administration. This study collects data on: the effectiveness of the training program, preference and ease of use of the intranasal (IN) and intramuscular (IM) naloxone delivery formulations, and frequency and effectiveness of naloxone use. These data should provide investigators and clinicians with feedback on the safety and effectiveness of opioid overdose training and naloxone distribution.

Contribution of Various Genetic Polymorphisms to the Abuse Liability of Oxycodone

Although many opioid drugs have significant abuse liability, no methods currently exist for identifying individuals who are at increased risk of developing opioid abuse. Researchers have begun to investigate the role of genetic factors contributing to drug dependence, focusing on genes that alter the clinical pharmacology of each specific drug class. The genetic contribution to the vulnerability to opioid addiction has been estimated at over 50%, which is greater than for any other drug class. This study examines the prevalence of various genetic polymorphisms thought to be involved in opioid abuse in three populations: prescription opioid abusers, heroin abusers, and non-drug abusers. Additionally we evaluate the subjective, cognitive, and analgesic effects of oxycodone in a subset of individuals with the polymorphisms of interest in comparison to wild type controls. By combining behavioral assays and genetic assessments, this study should yield important information about the relationship between genetic variation and the abuse potential of opioids.

Recent Publications