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Behavioral Science

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Photo of Sharon WalshSharon Walsh, Ph.D.

(Rutgers University, 1990)

Robert Straus Behavioral Sci B
Lexington Kentucky 40502
Phone: (859) 257-6485
e-mail: sharon.walsh@uky.edu

Joint Appointment, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy


Research Description

Dr. Walsh is a Professor of Behavioral Science, Psychiatry, and Director of the Center on Drug and Alcohol Research. Prior to coming to the University of Kentucky in 2005, Dr. Walsh earned her M.S. (1987) and Ph.D. (1990) from Rutgers University in Behavioral Neuroscience.   Dr. Walsh joined the Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1990 as a postdoctoral fellow where she trained in human behavioral pharmacology. She joined the faculty in 1992 and in 2003 became Professor of Behavioral Science and Psychiatry. Dr. Walsh's clinical research has focused on pharmacological issues in opioid and cocaine dependence. She has conducted studies on pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic characteristics of opioid treatment agents, including buprenorphine, methadone and LAAM and has evaluated potential pharmacotherapies for efficacy and safety in the treatment of cocaine dependence. Dr. Walsh was the 1997 recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, has authored numerous papers, has served as a regular NIDA study section member and serves on the board of an array of professional associations in the field of substance abuse.

2012 Accomplishments

Dr. Walsh has served in numerous professional capacities this past year at the local, state, national and international levels while continuing to support a productive research and training program.  With regard to University service, Dr. Walsh continues in her role as Director of the Center on Drug and Alcohol Research (CDAR).  She also served on six University and/or College Committees: the Biomedical Research Advisory Board on behalf of the Dean of the College of Medicine, the M.D./Ph.D. Admissions Committee, the Dean’s Committee for Allocation of State Dollars, the Scientific Review Committee for the Center for Clinical and Translational Science, as a Steering Committee Member for the EQUIP-4-CRx quality improvement initiative from the Dept. of Family and Community Medicine and served as chair of the Search Committee for the Chair of Molecular and Biomedical Pharmacology Department.  Dr. Walsh gave several local presentations, including guest lectures and seminar presentations.  Dr. Walsh also received a joint appointment as Professor of Pharmacology in the College of Medicine at UK.   At the national level, Dr. Walsh is appointed as a Special Government Employee of the Food and Drug Administration and serves in an advisory capacity for new drug approvals of analgesic formulations and risk management approaches for marketed drugs with abuse liability and served as a guest speaker at a meeting of the Anesthetic & Analgesic Drugs Advisory Committee.  She served as a grant reviewer and an advisor for the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the National Institute on Clinical and Translational Science (NCATS), an editorial board member for two journals, an invited reviewer for manuscripts from more than a dozen national and international journals, and as Awards Chair for Division 28 for the American Psychological Association.  She continued her service to the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the National Board of Medical Examiners as a test item writer for the physician Board exam in Addiction Medicine and worked with the American Pain Society to develop consensus safety guidelines for methadone.  On the international level, Dr. Walsh served as the Chair of the Improving Outcomes in the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (IOTOD) 11th annual meeting held in Brussels, Belgium, which provided training for nearly 400 European physicians in good practices, where she also presented two invited addresses.  She also serves as co-Chair of a European educational initiative, entitled “The Quality Patient Care Network,” which is developing and disseminating training for best practices with addiction physicians.  Now in its third year, Dr. Walsh has been involved in developing training materials and implementation of the network in France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Austria and the Nordic Countries.  Dr. Walsh also gave invited addresses at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, at the Improving Outcomes in the Treatment of Opioids meeting in Brussels, Belgium, and at the 6th Nordic Opioid Addiction Treatment Conference, in Copenhagen, Denmark, where she served as the Independent Examiner of a consensus Delphi process among the four Scandinavian countries on good clinical practice in opioid dependence treatment.  Dr. Walsh continues to be well funded through extramural support from NIDA and has current funding through R01-supported projects as a principal investigator and co-investigator, current funding through the NIDA Clinical Trials Network, in which she established CDAR as a Research Coordinating Center of the Ohio Valley Node, and was selected to receive a supplement to an existing grant by NIDA.  She had 8 peer-reviewed manuscripts published in respected journals (with two additional in press) and two book chapters.  With respect to education, Dr. Walsh continued to train students at the high school, pre and post-doctoral levels in the laboratory, mentor faculty in the College of Medicine and Pharmacy, gave guest lectures and participated in several CME activities for physicians and other health professionals.

Current Research Funding

Licit & Illicit Opioids: Comparative Studies in Humans (7/31/04 to 7/1/09) National Institute on Drug Abuse R01 DA016718.  Total Direct Costs:  $1,968,300; First Year Direct Costs:  $357,720.
This is a series of laboratory clinical pharmacology studies assessing the abuse liability profiles of prescription opioid medications, including comparisons to the profiles of known reference drugs of abuse.

Evaluation of Novel Treatments for Stimulant Dependence (9/1/06 – 8/31/09) National Institute on Drug Abuse R01 DA019433-A1.  Total Direct Costs: $1,427,427; First Year Direct Costs:  $468,787.
The primary aim of this project is to evaluate the ability of aripiprazole to alter intravenous cocaine self-administration and to alter cigarette smoking in human volunteers with smoking and cocaine use histories.

Evaluation of Atomoxetine for Cocaine Dependence:  A Pilot Trial (9/30/2006-10/1/2009)
National Institute on Drug Abuse R01 DA 22191-01.  Total Direct Costs: $750,000; First Year Direct Costs: $250,000.
The major goal of this study is to determine whether there are adequate safety and efficacy data for atomoxetine as a treatment for cocaine dependence in a small, double-blind, randomized clinical trial to warrant a larger-scale evaluation.

CSP# 1024, A Phase III, Randomized, Multi-Center, Double Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of Lofexidine for Relief of Symptoms in Subjects Undergoing Inpatient Opiate Detoxification (7/01/2006—12/31/2007) WorldMeds, LLC.
The primary goal of this Phase-III project is to evaluate the efficacy of an alpha-2 adrenergic receptor agonist for the treatment of opioid dependence in an inpatient setting.

Representative Publications:

Nann-Vernotica E., Donny E.C., Bigelow G.E. and Walsh S.L. (2001) The D1/5 antagonist, ecopipam, fails to attenuate the subjective and physiological effects of cocaine.  Psychopharmacology, 155: 338-347.

Walsh S.L., Strain E.C., Abreu M.E. and Bigelow G.E. (2001) Enadoline, a selective kappa opioid agonist:  Comparison with butorphanol and hydromorphone in humans. Psychopharmacology, 157: 151-162.

Walsh S.L., Geter-Douglas B., Strain E.C. and Bigelow G.E. (2001) Enadoline and butorphanol: Evaluation of k agonists on cocaine pharmacodynamics and cocaine self-administration in humans.  Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 299: 147-158.

Strain E.C., Walsh S.L. and Bigelow G.E. (2002) Blockade of hydromorphone effects by buprenorphine/naloxone and buprenorphine.  Psychopharmacology, 159:161-166.

Donny E.C., Walsh S.L., Bigelow G.E., Eisenberg T. and Stitzer M.L. (2002) High dose methadone produces superior opioid blockade and comparable withdrawal suppression to lower doses in opioid-dependent humans.  Psychopharmacology, 161: 202-212.

Lin, Shen-Nan, Walsh S.L., Moody D.E. and Foltz R.L. (2003) Detection and time course of cocaine N-oxide and other cocaine metabolites in human plasma by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS).  Analytical Chemistry, 75:  4335-4340.

Walsh S.L., Strain E.C. and Bigelow G.E. (2003) Evaluation of the effects of lofexidine and clonidine on naloxone-precipitated withdrawal in opioid-dependent humans.  Addiction, 98: 427-439.

Walsh S.L. and Eissenberg T. (2003) Buprenorphine: Extrapolating from clinical pharmacology to clinical practice. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 70 (2 Suppl): S13-27.

Donny E.C., Brasser S.M., Bigelow, G.E. Stitzer M.L. and Walsh, S.L. (2005) Methadone doses of 100 mg or greater are more effective than lower doses at suppressing heroin self-administration in opioid-dependent volunteers.  Addiction, 100: 1496-1509.

Donny E.C., Bigelow G.E. and Walsh S.L. (2006) Comparing the physiological and subjective effects of self-administered versus yoked cocaine in humans, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 186: 544-552.

Jufer R. Walsh, S.L., Cone E.J. and Sampson-Cone A. (2006) Effect of repeated cocaine administration on detection times in oral fluid and urine. Journal of Analytical Toxicology, 30(7):  458-462.

Walsh S.L. and Strain E.C. (2006) Pharmacology of methadone.  In:  Treatment of Opioid Dependence , The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland, Strain E.C. and Stitzer M.L. (eds), pp. 59-76.

Preston K.L., Epstein, D.H., Schmitter J.P. and Walsh S.L. (2006) Abuse of Marketed Medications.  In: Drug Abuse Handbook 2nd Edition. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, Karch S.B. (ed).

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