Sherry McKee PhD Clin
Associate Professor of Psychiatry; Director, Yale Behavioral Pharmacology Laboratory
Behavioral pharmacology; Medication development; Medication screening; Alcohol; Tobacco; nAChRs; Gender differences
- Development of human laboratory models to screen Phase II medications for tobacco and alcohol use
- Laboratory studies examining whether nAChR agents alter alcohol self-administration behavior
- Identifying and screening medications that will attenuate the effect of stress on smoking behavior and relapse
- Understanding gender differences in alcohol and tobacco use, and developing treatments, which are sensitive to gender differences
- Developing a human laboratory model of stress-precipitated eating behavior.
Our research group is focused on improving treatment for those with nicotine and alcohol use disorders. Much of our work is aimed at developing and validating laboratory paradigms designed to evaluate medication effects on self-administration behavior. Currently, we are working on paradigms designed to model the first instance of smoking during a quit attempt (i.e., smoking lapse) for the purpose of screening Phase II medications. Our smoking-lapse paradigm incorporates various precipitants of relapse (e.g., stress, alcohol, nicotine deprivation) and models two critical features of lapse behavior: the ability to resist the first cigarette and subsequent ad-libitum smoking. In addition to facilitating translational work in medication development, these models also allow for detailed mechanistic evaluations of relapse behavior, and the study of populations at high risk for treatment failure. Along this line, we have been working to understand why women have a harder time quitting smoking than men, and in particular have focused on the relationship between negative affect and smoking behavior.
We are also very committed to understanding the intersection between alcohol and nicotine use, with projects employing a range of methodologies (epidemiological, survey, human laboratory, policy) examining various facets of alcohol-nicotine interactions. In particular, we are interested in understanding the role of the nAChR receptor system in modulating alcohol effects, and whether this system represents a viable medications target for alcohol use disorders. To this end, we are currently investigating how various nAChR agents affect alcohol self-administration behavior.