Ongoing Studies

Below is a sampling of ongoing studies within the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences:  

A Phase 2, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel-Group, Study to Evaluate the Safety and Efficacy of EMB-001 in Subjects with Moderate-to-Severe Cocaine Use Disorder

  • Contact: Lisa Nunn, jenkinli@musc.edu843-792-0476
  • Description: This study is looking at an investigational medication called EMB-001, which is a combination of metyrapone and oxazepam, to see if it may be an effective treatment for cocaine use disorder. Participants will undergo screening procedures to determine eligibility, and eligible participants will take either EMB-001 or placebo twice a day for 13 weeks. During this time, participants will come to the office two times a week to meet with study personnel, and they will attend a one-month follow-up visit.

A Proof-of-Concept Trial of N-Acetylcysteine for Adolescent Alcohol Use Disorder

  • Contact: Call: 843-792-9257 | Text: YOUTH to 44332 |
    Email: youth@musc.edu
  • Description: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of the medication N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) to help young people quit or reduce using alcohol. NAC is an over-the-counter supplement and antioxidant that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in adults and children for other uses, but has not been approved by the FDA for treatment of alcohol use disorder. Volunteers ages 13-21 are needed for this study. 

A Prospective Trial of Varenicline and Incentives for Tobacco Cessation in Adults

  • Contact: PI: Erin McClure Ph.D. (843-792-7192, mccluree@musc.edu); Referrals: Team Intake (843-792-4097; smokingstudy@musc.edu); Study Management: Kemi Chukwuka-White (843-792-4215; chukwuka@musc.edu)
  • Description: The purpose of this study is to better understand tobacco outcomes using a well-known stop smoking medication, varenicline, and financial incentives with tobacco users. We are also interested in how cannabis/marijuana and tobacco interact during a tobacco quit attempt. All participants will receive tobacco cessation treatment (varenicline) for 12 weeks. This study will recruit adult tobacco users (ages 18-40) who are motivated to quit smoking cigarettes.
  • Any interested participants can call us or use the following link: https://redcap.link/projectquit

A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Phase 4, Relapse Prevention Study Evaluating the Efficacy and Safety of Vortioxetine (5, 10, and 20 mg) in Adults with Major Depressive Disorder

  • Contact: Katy Donovan, donova@musc.edu, 843-724-2945
  • Description: The goal of this study is to evaluate 3 fixed doses (5, 10, and 20 mg or tablets) of vortioxetine (Brintellix) in the prevention of relapse in adult subjects (18-75 years old) with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), recurrent, who responded to acute treatment with vortioxetine. Eligible subjects participate in a 16-week open-label treatment period with vortioxetine, followed by a 32-week double-blind randomized treatment phase. 

Apathy in Dementia Methylphenidate Trial 2 (ADMET 2)

  • Contact: Olga Brawman-Mintzer, M.D., mintzero@musc.edu, 843-724-2945
  • Description: Apathy in Dementia Methylphenidate Trial 2 (ADMET 2) is a Phase III, placebo-controlled, masked, 6-month, 10-center randomized clinical trial sponsored by the National Institute of Aging involving 200 participants with Alzheimer's disease (AD). ADMET 2 is designed to examine the efficacy and safety of methylphenidate as treatment for clinically significant apathy in AD participants. ADMET 2 will enroll participants from real-world settings, such as outpatient, nursing home, and assisted living facilities and will examine the effects of methylphenidate on apathy and cognition. ADMET 2 will also conduct careful safety monitoring.

Approach Bias Modification for the Treatment of Cannabis Use Disorder

  • Contact: Brian Sherman, Ph.D., shermanb@musc.edu, 843-792-8174
  • Description: The purpose of this study is to see if an investigational treatment called Approach Bias Modification, or ABM, helps people who are interested in quitting or cutting down on marijuana use. ABM is a computerized behavioral treatment that involves using a joystick to respond to marijuana and neutral pictures presented on a computer screen. ABM has been shown to reduce alcohol and nicotine use, but has not yet been tested for marijuana use.

Bringing South African Men into HIV Counseling and Testing (HCT) and Care

  • Contact: Dr. Michael D. Sweat, sweatm@musc.edu, 843-876-1800
  • Description: The ultimate objective of this research is to provide evidence-based strategies to improve treatment of HIV+ men. Treatment as prevention (TasP) can only work through a three step process: (1) Testing a significant proportion of the population, (2) linkage to care and (3) maintaining in care a significant proportion of HIV+ individuals to the point of viral suppression. The benefits of increased testing, linkage to and maintenance in care for men would be enormous. We propose a study that combines structural and individual level interventions and integrates the results to address our overall objective of maintenance in care to the point of viral suppression.
    •  Aim 1: In a cluster-randomized study, we will investigate whether male-centered mobilization and testing increases the population-level percentage of men who have been tested (within the last 12 months) by more than 10 absolute percentage points.
    • Aim 2: In the individually-randomized design, we will investigate whether POC CD4 testing and individualized case management improves linkage to care (immediately following diagnosis) and viral suppression (12 months later) over POC CD4 testing alone and standard of care.
    • Aim 3: Integrate the results of the two trial components (Aims 1 and 2) to evaluate the joint effect of the interventions on the percentage of HIV+ men who are effectively tested, linked to care and maintained with undetectable VL. The benefits of increased testing, linkage to and maintenance in care for men would be enormous. Men would remain healthier longer, could work and support their families, contribute to rather than deplete household economic resources, raise their children, and they would be less likely to transmit HIV to female partners.

CIRCUITS Study

  • PI: Amber Jarnecke, Ph.D.
  • Description: CIRCUITS is a study that was started to identify ways to develop better treatments for people who are experiencing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and have concerns about their alcohol use. We do this by examining brain scans using an MRI machine. CIRCUITS study participants complete two visits. During the first visit, participants answer questions and fill out surveys. During the second visit, participants complete a scan of their brain as they look at various images in an MRI machine. The CIRCUITS study is recruiting individuals who: 1) have experienced psychological trauma or have PTSD; 2) have concerns about their alcohol use; 3) have experienced psychological trauma/PTSD and have concerns about their alcohol use; and 4) have not experienced psychological trauma/PTSD and do not have concerns about their alcohol use.
  • Eligible participants will be paid up to $150 for their time and will make a great contribution to improving treatments for individuals struggling with alcohol and PTSD. 
  • Contact: Dr. Amber Jarnecke, 843-876-3115 or circuitsstudy@musc.edu

Community-Based Combination HIV Prevention in Tanzania Women at Heightened Risk

  • Contact: Dr. Michael D. Sweat, sweatm@musc.edu, 843-876-1800
  • Description: This is a two-arm Phase II community randomized controlled trial of a community-based combination HIV prevention intervention among FSWs in Iringa, Tanzania. The combination package examined includes integrated biomedical, behavioral and structural components: The study will establish base rates of key outcomes including HIV incidence and viral load suppression, examine the socio-structural and behavioral pathways of the intervention, assess feasibility, acceptability and safety, and document preliminary effectiveness. (1) mobile HIV testing and risk reduction counseling; (2) service navigation to facilitate access to treatment and retention in care; (3) sensitivity training for HIV clinical care providers; (4) SMS text messages to promote adherence to care and ART; (5) venue-based peer education and condom distribution; and (6) a community drop- in-center to promote cohesion and collective action to reduce stigma and discrimination. 

Comparison of Pre-Trial Competency to Stand Trial Defendants’ Characteristics on Outcome of Feigning Measures: A Preliminary Study of Local Norms

  • Contact: Jennifer Steadham, steadhaj@musc.edu, 843-876-2140
  • Description: Deliberate attempts to falsify, fabricate, or grossly exaggerate some aspect of functioning is known as feigning. When feigning is motivated by possibility of external gains (e.g., avoidance of prosecution or lesser punishment), it is known as malingering (Rogers & Shuman, 2005). Malingering has obvious relevance in forensic mental health evaluations, as pre-trial criminal defendants have clear motivations to feign impairment. Feigning strategies can be subdivided into two varieties in criminal forensic contexts: cognitive (i.e., memory or thinking processes) and psychiatric (i.e., symptoms of major mental disorders) impairment. Categorical classifications can be made on the basis of a defendant’s performance on feigning assessment measures, into groups thought to be exaggerating or fabricating impairment (“probable malingerers”) or those thought to be responding honestly (“non-malingerers”). In the last decade, direct examinations comparing the characteristics of competency defendants suspected of malingering versus non-malingerers, as classified by feigning measures, have been sparse and most often included as an incidental question in a larger study. For the current study, a sample of competence to stand trial evaluations conducted by MUSC’s Forensic Psychiatry Program will be reviewed. Competency to stand trial reports dated 2011 through August 2015 will be included for review. Evaluation reports will be coded for examinee (e.g., demographic, psychiatric diagnoses, and mental status descriptions) and evaluator characteristics (i.e., specialty field).

COPE Study

  • The COPE Study is recruiting veterans between the ages of 18 and 70 years old who have experienced trauma and drink alcohol. This study is investigating the impact of the medication Oxytocin paired with 12-weeks of COPE talk therapy in the treatment of PTSD and alcohol use. Compensation is provided for participation and this study can be completed via telehealth. If you are interested, you can take our online screener.
  • For more information, please contact:

CSP556  “rTMS for Depressed Veterans”

  • Contact: Matt Schmidt, matthew.schmidt@va.gov, 843-577-5011, x5209
  • Description: This is study for veterans only who have depression. The treatment given is Transcranial Magnetic stimulation. It is a double blind study with a sham (placebo) possibility. There is a screening phase of about 1 week, a treatment phase of 4-6 weeks, and a follow up phase where subjects come in once per month for 5 months. All procedures and assessments done at Ralph Johnson VA. Subject compensation is available up to $400.00.   

Development and Standardization of an iPhone-Based Application for Quantitative Measurement of the Pupillary Light Reflex in Healthy Adults and Patients with Parkinson’s disease (iDilate)

  • Sponsor: Chairs Departmental Research Foundation
  • Contact: Jenna Renfroe, Ph.D., renfroe@musc.edu, 843-792-6096
  • Description: This aim of this project is to develop and standardize an application that would allow clinicians, researchers, and community-based safety personnel (e.g., police and EMS) to obtain quantitative measurements of the pupillary light reflex, a highly sensitive measure of neurological functioning.

Discontinuation from Chronic Opioid Therapy Using Buprenorphine

  • Contact: Kayla W, whaley@musc.edu, 843-792-0684
  • Description: The purpose of this study is to: (1) evaluate the tolerability of buprenorphine for patients on chronic opioid therapy for pain, (2) evaluate the efficacy of gabapentin in improving outcomes for patients undergoing buprenorphine-assisted taper from chronic opioid therapy for pain, and (3) identify potential predictors of opioid cessation.
  • Compensation is available
  • Study medication provided at no cost

Dyadic-Based Diagnosis, Care & Prevention for Discordant Couples in Tanzania

  • Contact: Dr. Michael D. Sweat, sweatm@musc.edu, 843-876-1800
  • Description: The primary goal for the proposed study is to examine the feasibility, safety, and impact on improved care and prevention of novel strategies to identify and engage HIV sero-discordant couples in an integrated prevention and treatment intervention.

Eagle Eye: Validation of Computer-Based Saccade Measures as a Sensitive, Reliable, and Freely Available Biomarker for Tracking Subtle Neurocognitive Changes in Parkinson's Disease

  • Sponsor: Michael J. Fox Foundation
  • Contact:Jenna Renfroe, Ph.D., renfroe@musc.edu, 843-792-6096
  • Description: This study aims to validate a computer-based task to enable clinicians and researchers to measure saccades without the cost and complexity of traditional eye-tracking equipment. 

Enhancing Disrupted Reconsolidation: Impact on Cocaine Craving, Reactivity & Use

  • Contact: Amanda Smith, smitham@musc.edu, 843-792-6984
  • Description: The purpose of this double-blind, placebo-controlled study is to examine whether beta-adrenergic antagonist propranolol can attenuate cocaine-associated memories and thereby reduce cocaine craving, cue reactivity, and use in cocaine dependent participants. Participants will receive either placebo, 40mg, or 80mg of propranolol after each of two laboratory sessions of cocaine cue exposure. Participants will be evaluated on cocaine craving, physiological reactivity to cocaine cues, and cocaine use in follow-up sessions for 6 weeks.

Enhancing Self-Regulatory by Altering Memories That Increase Risk of Relapse Among Smokers: A Translational Clinical Neuroscience Study of a Novel Medication

  • Contact: Brittany Frasier, frasibri@musc.edu, 843-792-6984 or Kim Spencer, spenceal@musc.edu, 843-792-2286 (PI: Michael Saladin, Ph.D.)
  • Description: The proposed study is looking to recruit smokers over the age of 18 to complete a four visit study. Participants will be randomized to receive either rapamycin (sirolimus) or a placebo at the second visit to assess potential effects on craving and relapse. Four study visits will be completed over the course of about three weeks.

Enhancing the Identification of Victims of Child Pornography Production and Distribution

  • Contacts: Dr. Diana Mullis, 843-792-1461
  • Description: A unique collaboration with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has enabled access to data from a national registry of identified child pornography victims for the first time outside the federal government. The research team has built a database to examine characteristics of identified child pornography victims; how they are identified; relationships between child and perpetrator characteristics; details about the child pornography offenses.  This is a multi-national joint project with MUSC CPSPD, Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research, University of Ottawa, Canada and School of Health in Social Science, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. Funded by a Thorn Foundation grant. 

Entryway Assessment: Youth and Adult Substance Use Treatment Trends 

  • Contact: Call: 843-792-9257 | Text: YOUTH to 44332 | Email: youth@musc.edu
  • Description: The purpose of this study is to increase general knowledge about substance use effects and reasons for seeking treatment for substance use to inform treatment development. Youth and adults (aged 12 or older) who are interested in research opportunities will complete a one-time study visit and standardized assessment protocol. Compensation will be provided for participation and additional study opportunities may be offered following completion of this study.

Establishing the Neurostructural and Clinical Impact of Brain Iron Dysregulation in Cocaine Use Disorder

  • Contact: Lisa Nunn, jenkinli@musc.edu843-792-0476
  • Description: The purpose of this research study is to understand if high brain iron in individuals who use cocaine is related to the severity of cocaine use disorder. We will use non-invasive brain MRI to examine if high brain iron is associated with 1) abnormal brain circuits, and 2) behavioral and cognitive problems. The consists of a screening visit to determine eligibility and an MRI scanning visit.

Evaluation of Cue-Induced Brain Activation in Pedophilic Offenders

  • Contact: Dr. Diana Mullis, 843-792-1461
  • Description: This study adapts fMRI neuroimaging to evaluate cue-induced changes in regional brain activity in men with Pedophilic Disorder compared to men without the disorder. It has significant potential for knowledge acquisition. Neuroimaging technology has been used to a limited extent to address the neurobiological underpinnings of deviant sexual behavior, but studies are limited in number as well as in scope. It extends results of previous neuroimaging studies by assessing regional brain activity after cue stimulation with a control group during simultaneous fMRI and penile plethysmography. Funded by a University of Ottawa Medical Research Fund grant; joint with Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research, University of Ottawa.

Family-Based Treatment for Parental Substance Abuse and Child Maltreatment

  • Contact: Dr. Cynthia C. Swenson, swensocc@musc.edu,  843-876-1800
  • Description: The purpose of this randomized controlled trial is to examine the effectiveness of the Building Stronger Families Model versus standard services in Connecticut for physically abused and/or neglected children whose parents are experiencing severe substance abuse. The study is being implemented through a community based mental health provider. Key outcomes under examination include child behavior, parent behavior, family relations, parent to child violence, reabuse, placement, and parental substance abuse. 

Gender and Sex Hormone Influences on Cannabis Use Disorder Remission 

  • Contact: Kevin Branson, 843-792-0493 | bransonk@musc.edu
  • Description: Adults (ages 18+) who would like to reduce their cannabis use (N=224) will be enrolled in an 8-week treatment program. All participants will receive counseling (1 goals session with a therapist followed by 7 weekly computerized cognitive-behavioral therapy sessions). Detailed cannabis assessments (biological and self-report) will be conducted throughout treatment and at 1-, 2-, and 3-months post-treatment completion. Daily electronic diaries will be administered via text message to record detailed logs of cannabis use quantity and frequency. Salivary samples will be collected (and video observed) daily throughout treatment to analyze for progesterone.

HeART Therapy Study

  • PI: Julianne Flanagan, Ph.D.
  • MUSC is seeking couples who drink alcohol for a research study testing the effects of a new medication in combination with weekly talk couples therapy on reducing alcohol use and improving relationship functioning. Both members of the couple must be willing to participate in order to be eligible. Couples will be compensated for their time. Information is kept strictly confidential.
  • Weekly couples therapy x 12 weeks
  • For more information, please contact:

Impact of Lofexidine on Stress, Craving and Opioid Use

  • Contact: Lisa Nunn, jenkinli@musc.edu843-792-0476
  • Description: The purpose of this study is to determine if the medication lofexidine, taken together with buprenorphine or methadone, is more effective at reducing opioid craving, use and stress response than buprenorphine or methadone alone, and to see if this effect is different for men and women. Participants are randomly assigned to add either lofexidine or placebo to their buprenorphine or methadone treatment for five weeks. They return at the end of five weeks to participate in an opioid imagery task and stress task. Throughout the study, participants complete “CREMA” sessions (Cue Reactivity Ecologic Momentary Assessment) using an iPhone app three times a day. These sessions include looking at stressful and neutral pictures and rating stress and craving.

Impact of Progesterone on Stress Reactivity and Cannabis Use

  • Contact: Lisa Nunn, jenkinli@musc.edu843-792-0476
  • Description: The purpose of the study is to determine if the hormone progesterone affects marijuana users’ stress response and marijuana use. Participation lasts approximately three weeks. During the first week, participants are randomly assigned to take either progesterone or placebo and remain abstinent from marijuana. They return at the end of the week to participate in a stress task. Throughout the three weeks, participants complete “CREMA” sessions (Cue Reactivity Ecologic Momentary Assessment) three times a day. These sessions include looking at stressful and neutral pictures and rating stress and craving.

Internet Crimes Against Children: Development of a Typology of Offenders for Use in Prevention, Investigations and Treatment

  • Contact: Dr. Diana Mullis, 843-792-1461
  • Description: This study is based on the collection and analysis of data from Internet Crimes against Children (ICAC) investigated by ICAC Task Forces in 20+ states. The inferential analysis of perpetrator, victim and offense data and content analysis of Internet chats to solicit children serves to inform the mental health, social services, education and legal fields for use in forensic evaluations, treatment planning, criminal investigations, court proceedings and developing public safety strategies for protecting our communities’ youth. Funded by Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention grant # 2010-MC-CX-4003; joint with the University of South Carolina.

Mentorship and Research in HIV and Addiction Prevention Among Traumatized Youth: TIPS Study

  • Contact: Nathalie Slick, slick@musc.edu, 843-792-6079
  • Description: This pilot randomized controlled study, funded through a NIDA K24 (PI: Danielson) aims to target substance use and risky sexual behavior prevention among adolescents who have experienced trauma by using an app developed by our team called TIPS (Trauma Informed Prevention), which has been specially tailored for use with adolescents engaged in TF-CBT. Participants eligible for this study include TF-CBT trained clinicians, youth who have experienced at least one traumatic event and who are engaging in TF-CBT, and a caregiver. Clinicians are trained in how to use the TIPS app in conjunction with TF-CBT. Study participants are randomized to one of two study groups- TF-CBT as usual or TF-CBT plus the TIPS app. Data collection methods include self-administered surveys for the clinician, adolescent, and caregiver as well as brief clinical interviews with the adolescent and caregiver to be administered at several time periods during treatment. For more information on this study, please call Nathalie Slick. 

N-Acetylcysteine for Youth Cannabis Use Disorder

  • Contact: Call: 843-792-9257 | Text: YOUTH to 44332 |
    Email: youth@musc.edu
  • Description: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of the medication N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) to help young people quit or reduce using cannabis. NAC is an over-the-counter supplement and antioxidant that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in adults and children for other uses, but has not been approved by the FDA for treatment of cannabis use disorder. Volunteers ages 14-21 are needed for this study.  

Neuroscience-Informed Treatment Development for Adolescent Alcohol Use

  • Call: 843-792-9257 | Text: YOUTH to 44332 | Email: youth@musc.edu
  • The purpose of this study is to understand how the over-the-counter supplement, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), might affect the brain activity of adolescents who may or may not use alcohol.  This study requires 5 visits over the course of approximately 31 days.  Each teen participates in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), which is a technique that uses a magnetic field to take pictures of the brain. MRI is safe and non-invasive. It does not involve radiation, injections, or dyes. Youth ages 15-19 are able to participate in this study. 

Personalized Smoking Relapse Prevention Delivered in Real-Time via Just-in-Time-Adaptive Interventions (The QuitBuddy Study)

  • Contact: Asia Abad, blissas@musc.edu, 843-792-9910
  • Description: The purpose of this study is to explore whether the “QuitBuddy” quit-smoking app helps those trying to quit smoking to take over-the-counter quit medicine at the most effective times and improve quit attempt outcomes. This aim of the pilot study is to suggest whether QuitBuddy improves 1) NRT compliance and 2) cessation related outcomes (fewer cravings/lapses; increased time to lapse/relapse; superior 1 week, 1- and 3-month abstinence rates). We are currently recruiting males and females ages 18 and up who are daily cigarette smokers (CPD>10). 

Phase II RCT of Comprehensive Triage HIV Prevention: Tanzania

  • Contact: Dr. Michael D. Sweat, sweatm@musc.edu, 843-876-1800
  • Description: The purpose of this study is to conduct a rigorous 3-year Phase II trial of a promising HIV prevention strategy designed to significantly reduce population-level HIV incidence in rural developing country settings with severe generalized HIV epidemics.

POET Study - Veteran

  • Population: Veterans age 18-70
  • Treatment Condition: Trauma/PTSD 
  • Study Design: Treatment-seeking. Oxytocin/Placebo + 12 weekly sessions of Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy for PTSD
  • Fully Telehealth. 
  • Compensation is provided.
  • For more information, please contact:

Protecting Children Online: Using Research-Based Algorithms to Prioritize Law Enforcement Internet Investigations

  • Contact: Dr. Diana Mullis, 843-792-1461
  • Description: Using data from ICAC Task Forces across the U.S. to develop empirically-based algorithms to assist law enforcement in prioritizing  cases of: child pornography production over possession/ distribution; online luring to meet a minor to commit sexual offenses, over luring restricted to online behavior such as sexual chat or exchanging pornographic images; hands-on sexual offense offenders against children over cases of offenders with no known history. Funded by Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention grant # 2011-MC-CX-0002; joint with University of South Carolina, Johns Hopkins University & University of Ottawa.

Psychological First Aid for Victims of Crime

  • Contact: Dr. Michael McCart, mccartm@musc.edu, 843-876-1800
  • Description: This study aims to implement and refine research protocols required for a full-scale randomized clinical trial of Psychological First Aid (PFA) for adult victims of crime. PFA is a promising acute intervention designed to reduce the severity and duration of trauma-related distress. Law Enforcement Victim Advocates are being trained to implement PFA with adult crime victims. A pilot trial is comparing PFA to usual services on key mental health outcomes from baseline through 4 months post-baseline.

Randomized Controlled Trial of EEG/fMRI Controlled TMS for Treating Depression

  • Contact: Sarah Huffman, 843-792-8672, EEGTMSProject@musc.edu
  • Description (Section 1): We are currently seeking individuals between the ages of 21-70, diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) to participate in a research trial using repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). Treatment and study related assessments will be provided at no charge.
  • Description (Section 2): The MUSC Institute of Psychiatry is seeking healthy volunteers for a clinical research trial using non-invasive advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and electroencephalogram (EEG). This research study at the Medical University of South Carolina is free of charge and participants will be compensated for their time.

You may be eligible if you…

  • Are 21-70 years old
  • Can safely undergo a brain MRI scan (i.e. no metal in the body)
  • Are not currently pregnant
  • Do NOT have a history of epilepsy or seizures
  • Are able to participate in 3 hour study sessions

Reward Functioning, Traumatic Stress, and Mental Health in Teen Girls

  • Contact: Jesse Walker, walkerj@musc.edu, 843-792-7067
  • Description: Researchers at MUSC are recruiting teen girls aged 13-17 to participate in a research study using brain imaging (MRI, EEG) to understand connections between childhood experiences and mental health. Dates and times for participation are flexible. The study will involve one visit to the MUSC campus (2.5-3 hours). Compensation is provided.

rTMS for Adolescent Depression

  • Contact: 843-792-5702
  • Description: We are investigating the safety and efficacy of repetitive TMS as a treatment for adolescent depression for those aged 12-21 years old. We are seeking adolescents of this age range who have not received sufficient benefit from at least one antidepressant medication trial. TMS is currently FDA approved for treating adult depression.

rTMS for Bipolar Depression

  • Contact: 843-792-5702
  • Description: We are investigating repetitive TMS as a treatment for bipolar depression in conjunction with mood stabilizers in adults aged 22-68 years old. We are seeking treatment refractory patients with bipolar disorder. TMS is currently FDA approved for treating adult depression.

Safety and Efficacy of an Accelerated Protocol of Intermittent Theta Burst Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) to Enhance Performance and Promote Resilience in Astronauts (TRISH BRASH)

  • Contact: Claire Cox, coxcl@musc.edu, 843-970-2497 (text)
  • Description: Seeking Healthy Volunteers for Study of Cognitive Enhancement

    We are currently seeking healthy individuals for a study of cognitive performance. We are investigating whether a 1-week course of non-invasive brain stimulation may lead to improved cognitive function and stress management.

Participants must:

  • Be ages 25-55
  • Have no metal in your body
  • Commit to daily treatments for 5 consecutive days
  • Compensation will be provided.

Sex Differences in Opioid Use Disorder

  • PI: Delisa Brown, Ph.D.
  • Currently enrolling men and women for a study examining the effects of early childhood adversity on reactivity to stress and reactivity to stress and opioid cues. This study involves 2 visits and 1 follow up visit. Compensation is provided.
  • For more information, please contact:

Sexually Violent Predators and the Impact of Substance Addiction: A Pilot Study

  • Contact: Drs. Diana Mullis and Thomas Lewis III, 843-792-1461
  • Description: This study evaluates persons committed under the South Carolina Sexually Violent predator (SVP) Act with regard to substance usage, mental health diagnoses, criminal justice, and sex offense data to better understand their relationships. By utilizing SVP Act Multidisciplinary Team review data, information can be obtained comparing persons recommended for commitment to those dismissed from the review process. Given the dearth of empirical study of this population, employing the depth and breadth of data to be examined will enable this pilot study to further the field and public safety efforts at the community level. The Principal Investigator for this study is a General Psychiatry Resident in the DART program with associated funding support.

Stress-Reactivity and Cannabis Use in Cannabis-Using Older Adults

  • Contact: Reyna Hickey, hickeyre@musc.edu, 843-792-5573
  • Description: The goal of the study is to evaluate how cannabis use affects memory and thinking skills and response to stress in older adults. The study will also relate cannabis use to Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) biomarkers (measurable substances in blood that indicate condition), and test whether sex and hormones play a role in these effects.We are recruiting adults between the ages of 50 and 80 who use cannabis products on a regular basis. This study is being conducted by Dr. Andreana Benitez at the Departments of Neurology and Psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and will involve approximately 40 volunteers. Study participation will last about two weeks.

Synthesizing HIV Behavioral Intervention Effectiveness in Developing Countries

  • Contact: Dr. Michael D. Sweat, sweatm@musc.edu, 843-876-1800
  • Description: This is a project in which we are conducting systematic reviews and meta-analysis on evidence of effectiveness of a variety of HIV behavioral interventions in developing countries.

Targeting Foundational Memory Processes in Nicotine Addiction: A Translational Clinical Neuroscience Study of a Retrieval-Extinction

  • Contact: Brittany Frasier, frasibri@musc.edu, 843-792-6984 or Kim Spencer, spenceal@musc.edu, 843-792-2286 (PI: Michael Saladin, Ph.D.)
  • Description: We recently published results from a NIDA-funded study of a brief behavioral treatment that was designed to reduce the troublesome cravings that smokers encounter when they attempt to quit smoking. This intervention was based on a growing body of neuroscience studies showing that memories for prior learning can be retrieved by the presentation of cues involved in that learning. Once retrieved, the memories enter into a brief period of vulnerability, during which they can be modified, but after which they are reconsolidated (restabilized) back into long-term storage. The treatment potential of this phenomenon was initially demonstrated in a Science report in which inpatient heroin addicts were briefly exposed to cues associated with heroin use in order to prompt the heroin use memories into a vulnerable state. Once the memories were in this state, the heroin addicts received extinction training consisting of protracted exposure to heroin associated cues. It was argued that extinction would change the memories such that the cues would no longer be associated with heroin administration and reward. Remarkably, after just two sessions of retrieval-extinction training (RET), the investigators found that craving in response to heroin cues was substantially reduced for up to 6-months post-treatment. This effect was observed relative to a control group that received retrieval involving non-heroin cues, followed by extinction. These impressive initial findings led us to replicate and extend the study in cigarette smokers. In our study, one group of smokers received two sessions of RET with smoking cues whereas a control group received the same training except that retrieval consisted of brief exposure to neutral, smoking-unrelated cues. Craving and other reactions to familiar and novel smoking cues were assessed in test sessions performed 24-hrs, 2-weeks and 1-month after intervention; smoking behavior was also assessed over 1-month follow-up. Remarkably, at 1-month follow-up, craving to both familiar and novel smoking cues was significantly lower in the group receiving R-E training vs. control. Even more striking was the 25% reduction in the number of cigarettes smoked per day in the RET group vs. control. [Also of significance was suggestive evidence that, relative to control participants, more participants in the RET group achieved a 60% reduction in smoking (from pretreatment levels)]. The proposed project will replicate and extend these findings by 1) increasing the dose of intervention so as to bolster the observed treatment effects, 2) employing brain imaging methods to identify patterns of brain activity uniquely associated with the intervention and potentially predictive of treatment outcome, 3) adding a control group that will enhance understanding of the effects of RET, and 4) extending follow-up period to more completely document the long-term effects of RET. Positive findings from this study could lead to the development of a brief, effective behavioral intervention to reduce the burden levied against society by smoking. Importantly, this intervention could be easily adapted to treat other forms of addiction and co-occurring anxiety disorders, such as PTSD.

Testing a Promising Treatment for Youth Substance Abuse in a Community Setting

  • Contact: Dr. Scott W. Henggeler, henggesw@musc.edu, 843-876-1800
  • Description: The overriding purpose of the proposed randomized trial is to examine the effectiveness of a promising outpatient treatment of adolescent substance abuse delivered in a community-based treatment setting.

The Effects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) on Chronic Lower Back Pain

  • Contact: verteranpainsc@gmail.com, 843-779-2493
  • Description: The purpose of this study is to determine whether a new medical technology, called Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS), can help reduce chronic lower back pain and reduce the need for pain medication when applied in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy (“talk therapy”). tDCS is a minimally-invasive technique (i.e., it does not involve any surgical procedures, additional medication or sedation, or needles) that uses a very small amount of electricity to temporarily stimulate specific brain areas in awake people. The electrical current passes through the skin, scalp, hair, and skull and can temporarily increase or decrease activity in areas of the brain that are thought to be involved with pain reduction.

*COMPENSATION PROVIDED*

*ALL INFORMATION IS CONFIDENTIAL*

PARTICIPANTS MUST:

  • Be between the ages of 18 - 70 
  • Suffer from chronic pain
  • Be a United States Veteran
  • Take a prescription pain medication 

The Impact of E-Liquid Components on Product Appeal, Reinforcement Value, and Tobacco Use Patterns

  • Contact: Noelle Natale, 843-876-2441
  • The purpose of this study is to investigate the ingredients of e-liquid that are often used for e-cigarettes and other vaping devices. There are 3 in person visits over a period of 2 weeks, one of which is a sampling visit where you would sample 3 different e-liquids with an e-cigarette. You will also be sent home with one of the e-liquids and e-cigarette to sample for a week. 

TMS for Nicotine Addiction

  • Contact: Scott Henderson or Xingbao Li, henderjs@musc.edu or lixi@musc.edu, 843-792-5560 or 843-792-5729
  • Description: This is a double blind randomized controlled smoking cessation research study sponsored by the National Institute of Drug Abuse. This study is designed to ascertain whether repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) can affect things that may prompt you to want to smoke and the consumption of cigarettes over a 3-month period. After assessment and inclusion into the study, participants will be randomized to receive a 10-time active rTMS or placebo-like rTMS. Participants must be (1) current cigarette smokers; (2) between 18-60 years old; (3) able to commit approximately 13 hours of time to the study; and (4) have no metal in their body. Compensation will be provided.

TMS Targets Neural Circuity for Smoking Cessation

  • PI: Xingbao Li, M.D.
  • Contact: Morgan Dancy, maddoxm@musc.edu843-876-5141 or Dr. Li, lixi@musc.edu, 843-792-5729
  • Description: Cigarette smoking is a significant public health concern. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive form of brain stimulation that has already displayed remarkable potential for producing novel, non-pharmacological interventions for depression and cigarette smokers. US FDA approved TMS treatment for depression (2008) and smoker (2020). This is a double blind randomized controlled smoking cessation research study sponsored by the National Institute of Drug Abuse. In this study, we will use brain MRI to guide TMS therapy for smoking cessation.
  • Participants must be
    1. current cigarette smokers;
    2. between 18-60 years old;
    3. have no metal in their body.
  • Compensation will be provided.

Women & Opioid Use Study

  • PI: Tanya Saraiya, Ph.D.
  • Currently enrolling women ages 18-65 who have experienced a traumatic event and are either currently using or previously used opioids. This study seeks to learn about women's experiences of mental health treatment for trauma and opioid use and their treatment preferences. This study involves one 60 to 90 minute interview. Compensation is provided. We are also recruiting providers (therapists, psychologists, physicians, peer specialists) who work with these women to provide their perspectives on how to best develop a psychosocial treatment for women, trauma, and opioid use.
  • For more information, please contact:

Disclaimer: Some of the studies on this page may have ended. To find out if a study is still active, please contact the study coordinator listed. Thank you.