In this behind-the-scenes interview we talk with Dr. Maria T Rivera-Garcia about her research investigating the effects of CBD-rich whole plant extract vapor on pain and opioid reward seeking behavior in female rats in a study titled, “High-CBD Cannabis Vapor Attenuates Opioid Reward and Partially Modulates Nociception in Female Rats”.
While on the surface this may seem like a simple study about how CBD influences opioid use – there is actually a lot more going on here. First of all this study utilized female rodents, which is very uncommon. The vast majority of preclinical rodent research uses male rodents almost exclusively due to reasons we unpack during the episode. This has led to a gross under-representation of sex differences in biomedical research.
Second, Maria and colleagues decided to utilize the vapor of whole plant CBD-rich Cannabis extract rather than using CBD isolate that is often diluted and injected, ultimately leading to results that do not accurately reflect real-world situations.
Together, these two decisions point to a common theme that is woven into this research study – scientists need to focus on doing research that better represents the real world. The results from this study are fascinating, so get your notebook ready and let’s dive in!
Link to the study: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2772392522000451
Maria Teresa Rivera-Garcia has a major in psychology and a minor in neuroscience from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, where she started defining her academic interests towards the study of neurobiological mechanisms of addiction. After undergrad, Maria did a Master and a PhD in Neuropharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, her research focused on the neurochemical effects of solvent inhalation and its relation with the development of psychosis. Maria moved to the US in 2016 to pursue her postdoctoral training in the Oregon and Health and Science University, studying sex and age differences in dopaminergic function and how this is related to psychiatric illnesses, including addiction. In 2020, Maria joined Legacy Research Institute to complete her second postdoctoral stay under the guidance of Dr. Adie R. Wilson-Poe, where she studied the pharmacological interaction between opioids and cannabinoids in pain-oriented models. Recently, Maria got accredited as Qualified Mental Health Provider and became a member of the Cascadia Health clinicians team, currently providing services within the Child and Family Program.
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