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Ansel Hillmer, PhD

Associate Professor of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and of Biomedical Engineering; Associate Director of Imaging, Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

Research Summary

I am interested in implementing neurochemically specific brain imaging techniques, such as positron emission tomography (PET), to investigate the underlying neuroadaptations involved in substance dependence and withdrawal, particularly alcohol and nicotine. Areas of previous and current research include:

-Characterization of PET imaging radiotracers targeting alpha4beta2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, serotonin 5-HT1A receptors, 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase

-Development of experimental paradigms to interrogate acetylcholine neurotransmission in vivo with PET imaging

-Development of imaging paradigms that capture neuroimmune function

-Imaging neuroimmune function in substance use disorders

-Methods development of analysis tools integrating PET imaging data with fMRI connectivity data.

-Studying alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in people with PTSD

-Studying opioid and dopamine signalling during acute cannabis use

-Developing novel analytic tools to examine relationships of synaptic density with brain immune markers

-Novel analysis development to estimate different sources of PET radiotracer uptake


Research Interests

Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic; Substance Withdrawal Syndrome; Alcohol-Related Disorders; Neuroimaging; Analytical, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Techniques and Equipment

Selected Publications

Clinical Trials