Lisa R Gerak, Ph.D.
The opioid epidemic remains a serious national crisis with deaths from opioid overdose skyrocketing over the last 15 years. This escalation has been driven by abuse of prescription opioids and heroin, although the role of fentanyl and its derivatives in overdose deaths has increased dramatically in the last few years. One major goal of our behavioral pharmacology laboratory is to identify strategies that might reduce the impact of the ongoing opioid epidemic. For example, one current project in our laboratory is investigating novel strategies for preventing and reversing opioid-induced respiratory depression, the fatal effect of many opioids. Other projects are examining interactions between drugs acting at the same or different receptors to understand their mechanism of action, discover and evaluate unique drugs or drug combinations to relieve pain, and identify novel drug combinations for the treatment of drug abuse. Overall, these preclinical studies are examining potential pharmacotherapies for pain, opioid addiction, and overdose with the goal of finding novel strategies that could be developed to improve treatment and decrease opioid-related fatalities.
Related Diseases: drug abuse, drug dependence, pain, overdose
Techniques: many behavioral techniques, including operant conditioning procedures
- 2002 - Postdoctoral Fellowship - Pharmacology - Biomedical Alcohol Research Training Program, Louisiana State Univ HSC
- 2000 - Postdoctoral Fellowship - Pharmacology - Dept Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics, Louisiana State University
- 1997 - PhD - Pharmacology - Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center
- 1988 - BS - Biology - Michigan Technological University
- 1/2006 - Research Assistant Professor - University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Pharmacology, San Antonio
Research & Grants
Goals of our behavioral pharmacology laboratory are to investigate novel strategies for preventing and reversing opioid overdose, discover and evaluate unique drugs or drug combinations to relieve pain, and identify novel drug combinations for the treatment of drug abuse.
Specific Field of Study: Drug abuse
Associated Diseases: Drug abuse, drug dependence, pain, overdose
Techniques Used: Many behavioral techniques, including operant conditioning procedures
Funding Agency NIH/NIDA Title A novel opioid receptor antagonist for treating abuse and overdose Status Active Period 4/2019 - 2/2024 Role Co-Investigator Grant Detail The proposed studies build on exciting preliminary data supporting the therapeutic utility of the novel mu opioid receptor antagonist methocinnamox (MCAM) for treating opioid abuse and overdose. Funding Agency NIH/NIDA Title Preclinical assessment of buprenorphine/lorcaserin mixtures for the treatment of opioid abuse Status Active Period 6/2018 - 5/2020 Role Principal Investigator Grant Detail This proposal uses preclinical models of drug abuse to provide proof of concept that buprenorphine/lorcaserin mixtures would be more effective at decreasing ongoing abuse and preventing relapse than either drug alone. Funding Agency NIH/NIDA Title Discriminative stimulus effects of opioid withdrawal (NCE) Status Active Period 9/2018 - 1/2020 Role Co-Investigator Grant Detail The proposed studies explore the therapeutic potential of autoinjectable formulations of a novel, pseudoirreversible and highly selective mu opioid receptor antagonist (methocinnamox; MCAM) for treating opioid poisoning. Funding Agency NIH/NIDA Title Discriminative stimulus effects of opioid withdrawal Status Active Period 5/2015 - 1/2020 Role Co-Investigator Grant Detail These studies examine mixtures of opioid receptor agonists and cannabinoid receptor agonists to investigate their combined analgesic effects as well as potential adverse effects that might impact the clinical use of these mixtures for pain. Funding Agency NIH/NIDA Title Reinforcing effects of opioid/benzodiazepine mixtures Status Complete Period 4/2015 - 3/2017 Role Principal Investigator Grant Detail Abuse and overdose of prescription opioids has risen dramatically with most prescription opioid deaths involving at least one other drug, often a benzodiazepine. These studies determine whether opioid/benzodiazepine mixtures are preferred in codependent, but not in nondependent, individuals.
Gerak LR, France CP. Combined treatment with morphine and Delta9-tetrahydrocannibinol (THC) in rhesus monkeys: antinociceptive tolerance and withdrawal; 2015 Jan. (Presented at Experimental Biology).
Gerak LR, Weed, PF, Maguire DR, France CP. Effects of the synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonist JWH-018 on abuse-related effects of opioids in rhesus monkeys Drug Alcohol Depend 2019 Jan;202:33-38. Gerak LR, Maguire DR, Woods JH, Husbands SM, Disney A, France CP. Reversal and prevention of the respiratory-depressant effects of heroin by the novel mu-opioid receptor antagonist methocinnamox in rhesus monkeys J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2019 Jan;368:229-236. Maguire DR, Gerak LR, Woods JH, Husbands SM, Disney A, France CP. Long-lasting effects of methocinnamox on opioid self-administration in rhesus monkeys J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2019 Jan;368:88-99. Gerak LR, Collins GT, Maguire DR, France CP. Effects of lorcaserin on reinstatement of responding previously maintained by cocaine or remifentanil in rhesus monkeys Exp Clin Psychopharmacol 2019 Jan;27:78-86. Weed PR, Gerak LR, France CP. Ventilatory-depressant effects of opioids alone and in combination with cannabinoids in rhesus monkeys Eur J Pharmacol 2018 Jan;833:94-99. Collins GT, Gerak LR, France CP. The behavioral pharmacology and therapeutic potential of lorcaserin for substance use disorders Neuropharmacology 2018 Jan;142:63-71. Weed PF, France CP, Gerak LR. Preference for an opioid/benzodiazepine mixture over an opioid alone using a concurrent choice procedure in rhesus monkeys J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2017 Jan;362:59-66. Gerak LR, France CP. Combined treatment with morphine and Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol in rhesus monkeys: antinociceptive tolerance and withdrawal J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2016 May;357(2):357-366. Gerak LR, France CP. Combined treatment with morphine and Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in rhesus monkeys: antinociceptive tolerance and withdrawal J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2016 Jan;357:357-366. Maguire DR, Gerak LR, France CP. Delay discounting of the mu opioid receptor agonist remifentanil in rhesus monkeys Behav Pharmacol 2016 Jan;27:148-154. Zanettini C, Pressly JD, Ibarra MH, Smith KR, Gerak LR. Comparing the discriminative stimulus effects of modulators of GABAA receptors containing alpha4-delta subunits with those of gaboxadol in rats Psychopharmacology 2016 Jan;233:2005-2013. Gerak LR, Collins GT, France CP. Effects of lorcaserin on cocaine and methamphetamine self-administration and reinstatement of responding previously maintained by cocaine in rhesus monkeys J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2016 Jan;359:383-391. Maguire DR, Gerak LR, France CP. Effect of daily morphine administration and its discontinuation on delay discounting of food in rhesus monkeys Behav Pharmacol 2016 Jan;27:155-164. Collins GT, Gerak LR, Javors MA, France CP. Lorcaserin reduces the discriminative stimulus and reinforcing effects of cocaine in rhesus monkeys J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2016 Jan;356:85-95. Koek W, Gerak LR, France CP. Effects of amphetamine, morphine, and CP 55,940 on Go/No-Go task performance in rhesus monkeys Behav Pharmacol 2015 Jan;26:481-484. Gerak LR, Zanettini C, Koek W, France CP. Cross tolerance to cannabinoids in morphine-tolerant rhesus monkeys Psychopharmacology 2015 Jan;232:3637-3647.