Professional Education | Topic Of Interest

Pine Rest Grand Rounds

Examination of Synaptic Density in Cocaine Use Disorder


The Grand Rounds lecture describes preclinical studies on alterations in synaptic density after cocaine use.  Then we will discuss the process for our field to be able to test something similar in humans.  We will also review findings from clinical studies and potential future directions.

Learning objectives:

  1. Learn preclinical evidence of cocaine’s effects on synaptic density.
  2. Understand progress made towards micro-architectural examination of synaptic density in humans in vivo
  3. Identify changes in synaptic density in humans with cocaine use disorder and their potential clinical relevance

Dr Angarita: “Experiencing the impact of the cocaine epidemic in my native Colombia led me to pursue a career dedicated to the improved understanding and treatment of cocaine addiction. Since completing Clinical Training and becoming U.S Board Certified in Adult Psychiatry and Addictions Psychiatry in 2012, I have developed academic interest in the regulation of cocaine self-administration in humans, the validation of Remote Wireless Sensor Network (RWSN) technology for detecting cocaine use, and the role of cocaine-induced deficits in sleep in the putative therapeutic effects of the atypical stimulant, modafinil. Currently; my primary career interests lie in the theoretical and logistical groundwork for clinical-translational studies in understanding substance use disorders, including 1) mechanisms of stimulant actions on the brain, behavior and subjective experiences (e.g., PET studies involving stimulant administration); 2) treatment development studies on medications for opioid and/or cocaine use disorder; and 3) PET imaging studies on kappa opioid receptors and synaptic density abnormalities in cocaine and/or opioid use disorder. As Inpatient Chief of the Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit (CNRU) of the Connecticut Mental Health Center (CMHC), I provide care for the patients who are admitted on our floor to participate in research studies or to receive treatment for the psychiatric conditions afflicting them. This setting fosters collaboration with other clinicians, researchers, as well as teaching of Medical Students and Psychiatry Residents.”


  • Gustavo A. Angarita MD, MHS

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