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De Aquino Receives Patterson Trust Mentored Research Award

December 12, 2019

João P. De Aquino, MD, Clinical Instructor in Psychiatry, has been chosen to receive a two-year Patterson Trust Mentored Research Award from the Robert Leet Patterson and Clara Guthrie Patterson Trust.

The trust, created in 1980, supports research relating to human diseases, their causes, and relief. The amount of the award is $100,000.

The award will fund De Aquino’s study, “Cannabinoid Modulation of Pain Sensitivity in Humans with Co-occurring Chronic Pain and Opioid Use Disorder.” The study will examine the effects of oral delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main ingredient in cannabis, among people with both chronic pain and opioid addiction.

Across three laboratory test sessions, participants will receive distinct doses of oral THC or placebo. Subsequently, they will undergo testing of key components of the pain experience. The study will also test important safety aspects of THC, such as its potential for misuse and its effects on memory.

The medicinal use of cannabinoids for chronic pain and opioid addiction is gaining popularity, with several states authorizing medicinal cannabinoids for these conditions.

Although studies in healthy people indicate cannabinoids may increase pain tolerability, the analgesic effects of cannabinoids in people living with both chronic pain and opioid addiction have not been studied.

De Aquino’s study will provide important insights on the effects of cannabinoids among people living with both chronic pain and opioid addiction and may help develop improved treatments for this population.

De Aquino is a Staff Addiction Psychiatrist and Advanced Fellow in Mental Illness Research and Treatment at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, where he treats patients with substance use and co-occurring psychiatric disorders. He is a graduate of the Yale Psychiatry Residency Program and Addiction Fellowship Program at Yale School of Medicine.

Submitted by Christopher Gardner on December 11, 2019