Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology and Toxicology
Chair, Division of Addiction Psychiatry

The first visible effect of Moeller’s arrival was the installation of a new research-dedicated MRI scanner. Moeller, who takes the helm of the Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies, brings a human research program that will complement the medical school’s traditional strengths in preclinical drug abuse research.

Moeller uses MRI to study the neurobiology of behavior, with an eye to developing new treatments for addiction. For instance, cocaine addicted individuals’ brains show changes in white matter mdash; the connections between nerve cells, changes that are associated with impulsivity. “This could be a new target for treatment in people with cocaine addiction,” he says.

The approach is useful for studying other conditions in which impulsivity plays a role, such as traumatic brain injury, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and binge eating. Joining the medical school is, Moeller says, “A major opportunity for me to collaborate with other VCU researchers in these research areas.”

In addition, Moeller is charged with overseeing Addiction Medicine. He looks forward to the challenge of treatment and patient care. Combining clinical duties with research investigation works both ways, he says. Not only does research uncover new avenues for treatment, but clinical work informs the research questions.