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UW-Green Bay’s Todd Hillhouse will research new drugs to treat addiction and depression with 2022 Regent Scholar Award

MADISON—In April, the University of Wisconsin System announced UW-Green Bay Assistant Professor of Psychology Todd Hillhouse as a 2022 Regent Scholar Award recipient.

The award, which comes with one-time grants to pursue a project in their field of study, recognizes UW System faculty for their extraordinary efforts in support of undergraduate research, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Hillhouse’s project is “Targeting Nociceptin and Kappa Opioid Receptors for Treatment of Cocaine Addiction and Depression.”

More than 8 percent of the population meets the criteria for substance use disorder (addiction), and those with substance use disorder have a significantly higher prevalence of depression (up to 48 percent) as compared to the normal population (less than 15 percent). Agonist replacement therapies are the first line of treatment for addiction; however, they are not overly effective and do not eliminate addiction.

This research focuses on discovering and developing novel drugs for the treatment of addiction and depression as many overlaps exist between the disorders, and they likely share biological underpinnings. The proposed research is innovative in its approach to treat addiction through a neurotransmitter system that is separate from the drug of abuse. This recognition will also assist in the establishment of a new research lab on the UW-Green Bay campus, which will focus on developing talented local students for the biomedical industry.

The Regent Scholar program is coordinated by Arjun Sanga, President of WiSys, along with Dr. Adhira Sunkhara, Assistant Director for WiSys. WiSys is an independent, nonprofit-supporting organization for the UW System that advances scientific research throughout the state by patenting technologies developed out of the universities and licensing these inventions to companies capable of developing them to benefit Wisconsin and beyond.

(Via UW System)