Methamphetamine Abuse Research Center

Methamphetamine Abuse Research Center

Methamphetamine abuse has taken a heavy toll on Oregon communities, touching thousands of families with its devastating effects. The drug is fiercely addictive, and clinicians currently have no medications available to help users navigate the challenging months or years it takes them to recover from methamphetamine’s impact on their brains.

The Methamphetamine Abuse Research Center, a joint project of OHSU and the Portland VA Medical Center, develops the scientific understanding we need to design effective prevention and treatment approaches to methamphetamine abuse. Our 20 scientists and clinicians study the drug’s workings simultaneously at multiple levels — genes, brain chemistry, brain function, and behavior — both in the laboratory and in the clinic with human patients. Tackling questions from these many different directions at once propels our understanding of how the drug works faster than approaching it from one direction at a time would.

In one example, a MARC scientist found that prenatal exposure to methamphetamine produced problems with spatial memory in baby mice. The lab is now following up that finding with an analogous study in children who were exposed to methamphetamine in the womb.

In addition to doing science, the MARC facilitates communication of the science of addiction to our colleagues in the treatment world, to the general public, and to school children. We also have a mandate to teach the ropes of addictions research to young scientists who come from both medicine and the basic sciences.

Your support of the MARC goes toward finding ways to help methamphetamine abusers recover from their devastating disease and toward preventing young people from trying this dangerous drug even once.