Ongoing Studies

Our ongoing compensated research studies aim to develop and evaluate a novel, multimodal neuroimaging framework (specifically, using Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI, which does not contain any ionizing radiation) for testing GABAergic and glutamatergic medications for conditions marked by GABAergic/glutamatergic dysfunction (e.g., Bipolar Disorder, heavy alcohol or cannabis use). These investigations will utilize safe, FDA-approved medications that have been demonstrated to normalize cortical GABA and/or glutamate concentrations in individuals with epilepsy and cocaine dependence, respectively, in a difficult-to-treat population characterized by unique GABAergic and glutamatergic disturbances: individuals with Bipolar Disorder who also drink alcohol and/or use marijuana or other drugs.

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Imaging Framework for Testing GABAergic/glutamatergic Drugs in co-occurring Bipolar and Alcohol Use Disorder

This study examines the effects of the medication gabapentin and the supplement n-acetylcysteine among individuals with Bipolar Disorder who regularly drink alcohol. Participants in this study will take gabapentin, n-acetylcysteine, and matched placebo (one at a time) for 5 days each. There are 8 study visits, including 3 MRI scans.

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Imaging Framework for Testing GABAergic/glutamatergic Drugs in co-occurring Bipolar and Alcohol Use Disorder: A comparison with healthy controls diagnosed with or without Bipolar Disorder

The sub-study is included within the Imaging Framework for Testing GABAergic/glutamatergic Drugs in Bipolar Alcoholics study. Participants in this study be used as healthy controls (no history or reported use of substances) as a comparison for Bipolar Alcoholics. No study medications will be dispensed for this study. There are 2 study visits, one of which is an MRI scan.


Gabapentin for Restoring GABA/glutamate Homeostasis in Co-occurring Bipolar and Cannabis Use Disorders: A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled, Parallel-group, MRI Study

This research study evaluates the effects of an FDA-approved medication Gabapentin in individuals with Bipolar Disorder who smoke marijuana. Participants in the study will be assigned to take either Gabapentin or a matched placebo. Study medication will be taken for 17 days. There will be 5 study visits, with 2 MRI brain imaging scans completed. Questionnaires and clinical interview measures will be completed at study visits along with consistent assessment of potential side effects from study medication.


An investigation of reward brain circuitry structure and function in individuals with co-occurring alcohol use disorder and bipolar disorder and their unaffected offspring

The purpose of this two-visit brain imaging (magnetic resonance imaging, MRI) study is to identify brain targets for improving treatment and preventative interventions for individuals at risk for co-occurring bipolar disorder and alcohol use disorder. The preliminary visit for a parent and his/her biological child will include completion of clinical interviews, surveys, and lab work to determine study eligibility. If they are considered eligible for the study, brain imaging visits will occur within 1-2 weeks at which a 1-hour MRI will be completed along with additional clinical interviews, surveys, and lab work. Brief follow-up phone call interviews will be completed with participants every 3 months for 1 year. Study participation is confidential and compensated.


Contact Us

If you are interested in participating in Bipolar Disorder research, please call 843-792-7500 or email bipolardisorder@musc.edu.