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Research Focus

The focus of the Norman Laboratory is translational research to develop medications for the treatment of cocaine abuse. 

Drug self-administration by animals is a valid model of human addictive behavior.  It has long been considered axiomatic that drugs of abuse are self-administered because of their pleasurable (hedonic or euphoric) effects, which in turn makes these drugs positively reinforcing. Unfortunately, these assumptions result in well-known paradoxes and the idea that reinforcement plays any significant role in maintained self-administration behavior is of limited utility.  

The Norman laboratory has developed a quantitative pharmacological theory of self-administration behavior in which cocaine-induced responding occurs only while drug concentrations are within a specific range. The core of our model of the maintenance phase of drug self-administration is the equation: T=ln(1+DU/DST)·t1/2/ln2, which defines the inter-injection intervals (T) in terms of only three parameters: the unit dose of cocaine (DU), the elimination half-life of cocaine (t1/2) and the satiety threshold (DST). This latter parameter is defined as the highest concentration of drug at which self-administration occurs. This simple model is the first to successfully define a seemingly complex behavior in terms of purely physical parameters.

This pharmacological paradigm represents a scientifically rigorous foundation for generating testable hypotheses about the biological basis of addictive behavior.  More importantly, it provides a rational basis for the development of medications for drug addiction. To this end an active collaboration with Dr. Jim Ball, in the Department of Pharmacology, has developed a human anti-cocaine monoclonal antibody as a pharmacokinetic antagonist of cocaine, which is intended as an immunotherapy to prevent relapse in cocaine abusers.

The Norman lab is also using drug self-administration behavior as a bioassay system to measure the absolute pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic potencies of receptor antagonists as a basis for developing antagonist based pharmacotherapies.

Lab Developed Software

Lab Members

Principal Investigator

Andrew B. Norman, Ph.D

Current Research Associates

Chris Crutchfield, Ph.D, HCLD(ABB), DABCC

Terry Kirley, PhD

Vladimir Tsibulsky, Ph.D

Rose Webster, Ph.D

Staff

Julie Baker Nolan (Senior Research Clinical Professional)

Richa Mishra, MS (Program Coordinator)

Hanna Wetzel, Ph.D (Visiting Scholar)

Current Pharmacology Ph.D Graduate Students

Jordan A. Marckel (2016-current)

Dakota B. Zinani (2018-current)

Current Pharmacology Masters Students

Brian Johns

Student Workers

Zhen-Hin E. Chan (Undergraduate Research Assistant)

MacKenzie Turner (Undergraduate Research Assistant)

Former Lab Members

Graduate Students
Postdoctoral Fellows
Resident Research Fellows
Medical Student and Summer Research Fellows

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Contact Us

Department of
Pharmacology and Systems Physiology

College of Medicine
231 Albert Sabin Way
Cincinnati, OH 45267-0575