Gregory Collins




Gregory Collins, Ph.D

Associate Professor of Pharmacology

Personal Statement:

Research in my laboratory is broadly aimed at investigating the determinants of drug-taking and drug-seeking behaviors. Accordingly, we utilize intravenous self-administration procedures to assess the degree to which factors such as age, diet, sex, and drug history influence (1) the acquisition of drug-taking, (2) the reinforcing effectiveness of drugs, and (3) the effectiveness of drug-associated stimuli to promote responding during periods in which the drug is no longer available. In addition to drug self-administration, we also utilize drug-discrimination procedures as well as video and radio-telemetric assessments of drug effects on cardiopulmonary activity, body temperature, locomotor activity, and other observable behaviors. These procedures are used to better characterize the pharmacologic profile of both drugs of abuse as well as candidate medications for the treatment of substance abuse. Currently my laboratory is focused on three primary areas of research: 1 – Characterizing the abuse-related and toxic effects of drug mixtures. These studies employ quantitative approaches to determine whether the discriminative stimulus, reinforcing and cardiovascular effects of drugs are altered when they are administered in combination with other co-abused drugs. Examples include (1) “bath salts” preparations that often contain mixtures of multiple synthetic cathinones (e.g., MDPV and methylone), or synthetic cathinones mixed with other non-cathinone constituents, such as caffeine, and (2) mixtures of stimulants (e.g., cocaine, methamphetamine, MDPV) and opioids (e.g., heroin, fentanyl) which are becoming increasingly popular in the US, and are responsible for growing proportion of the total deaths resulting from drug overdose. 2 – Investigating factors that contribute to individual differences in substance use disorder (SUD)-related behaviors. These studies exploit a recently identified “high-responder” phenotype in rats self-administering MDPV, to determine factors (e.g., age, sex, impulsivity, pharmacologic and reinforcement histories, etc.) that might predict the development of high levels of drug-taking and/or drug-seeking, resistance to punishment of drug-taking, and other SUD-related behaviors. 3 – Development of candidate medications for (poly)substance use disorders. These studies use intravenous drug self-administration as well as reinstatement models to evaluate the effectiveness of potential pharmacotherapeutics to reduce drug-taking and drug-seeking, respectively. In addition to efforts aimed at repurposing drug already approved by the FDA for treating other conditions (e.g., the 5-HT2C receptor agonist, lorcaserin), we are also interested in evaluating mixtures of highly selective but experimental drugs with the ultimate goal of developing novel polypharmacy approaches to treating (poly)substance use disorders.


• behavioral pharmacology • dopamine systems
• synthetic cathinones • self-administration
• drug discrimination • substance use disorders



Preclinical Psychopharmacology of Substance Abuse

Bath Salts: abuse-related and toxic effects

Repurposing drugs in mixtures to treat drug abuse

Awards & Accomplishments

JH Woods Early Career Award in Behavioral Pharmacology from ASPET – 2021 Best Young Investigator Award from the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (IUPHAR) – 2018 American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Travel Award – 2013


American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) – Behavioral Pharmacology Division Councilor and Programming Committee Representative Behavioral Pharmacology Society (BPS) American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) International Study Group Investigating Drugs as Reinforcers (ISGIDAR) Behavior, Biology, and Chemistry: Translational Research in Addiction (BBC) – Organizing Committee Member and Programming Committee Chairperson

Lab Members

Briana Mason, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow


Robert Seaman Robert Seaman IBMS Graduate Student


Lectures and Presentations

Cardiovascular complications of (poly)substance abuse. Louisiana State University Health Science Center at Shreveport, Center for Cardiovascular Diseases and Sciences Seminar Series – 2020 Methamphetamine-opioid interactions: Implications for cardiovascular function. National Institute on Drug Abuse Workshop on Methamphetamine-Opioid Drug-Drug Interactions – 2019 A reverse translational approach to developing broad-spectrum treatments for substance use disorder. Center for Innovative Drug Discovery (CIDD) San Antonio Drug Discovery Symposium – 2019 Abuse-related effects of MDPV, α-PVP, and related synthetic cathinones: structural determinants of reinforcing potency and effectiveness. World Congress of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology – 2018 Abuse-related effects of synthetic cathinones and “bath salts” mixtures. University of Michigan, Interdepartmental Drugs of Abuse Seminar Series – 2018 Reinforcing effects of novel synthetic cathinones and their mixtures. Symposium: “Bath Salts”: the ever-changing landscape of synthetic cathinones – ASPET Annual Meeting – 2018 Abuse-related effects of synthetic cathinones and “bath salts” mixtures. National Institutes on Drug Abuse, Intramural Research Program Seminar Series – 2018