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Ansel Hillmer, PhD

Assistant Professor of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging and of Psychiatry

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 clinical alcohol dependence

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

-Studying alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in PTSD

-Studying opioid signalling in the context of cannabis use


Research Interests

Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic; Substance Withdrawal Syndrome; Alcohol-Related Disorders; Neuroimaging

Selected Publications

Clinical Trials