Dr. Stevie C. Britch is the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics Highlighted Trainee Author for the June 2020 issue. Dr. Britch is a postdoctoral trainee at the Center on Drug and Alcohol Research, Department of Behavioral Science, University of Kentucky. At the time the work was performed, she was a graduate student with the Department of Psychology, Washington State University. Her graduate mentor was Dr. Rebecca Craft, and her postdoctoral mentors are Dr. Sharon Walsh and Dr. Shanna Babalonis.
The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics article that earned her selection as a Highlighted Trainee Author is titled “Antinociceptive and Immune Effects of Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or Cannabidiol in Male Versus Female Rats with Persistent Inflammatory Pain” and is available at https://doi.org/10.1124/jpet.119.263319
Dr. Britch’s area of research broadly focused on 1) elucidating sexual dimorphism in novel analgesics, 2) investigating interactions between multiple psychoactive drugs, and 3) assessing immunological mechanisms by which cannabinoids can reduce pain and inflammation. During her postdoctoral training, she has transitioned from research in rodents to clinical pharmacology studies in humans focused on the safety and abuse liability of drug combinations. Concurrent use of opioids with other drugs of abuse is occurring at alarming rates, yet little is understood about the safety of combining psychoactive substances. Dr. Britch is currently working on a study with Dr. Shanna Babalonis to examine the effects of vaporized marijuana alone and in combination with intranasal opioids on experimental pain, abuse liability, and safety outcomes, including respiratory depression. In a separate study, with Dr. Sharon Walsh, she is examining oral opioids alone and in combination with alcohol to assess potential synergistic action on respiratory depression along with subjective and psychomotor performance measures.
The anticipated impact of Dr. Britch’s research will inform policy and the public about the safety (or danger) of combining drugs, such as marijuana or alcohol with opioids. It will explore the potential therapeutic benefit of opioids and marijuana on pain.
When not in the lab, Stevie is an avid backpacker and enjoys summiting larger and larger mountains every year, and hiking with her two mini Australian shepherds, Bella and Sadie. She also enjoys traveling, hot yoga, and cooking.