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Rachel Tomko PhD

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  • Associate Professor
  • College of Medicine
  • Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Academic Focus
  • individual differences in cannabis use effects, cannabis use disorder risk factors, and treatment response
  • mobile technology/ecological momentary assessment
  • SUD clinical trial methodology
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Dr. Tomko received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology (B.S.) from the Pennsylvania State University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Missouri. She completed her predoctoral internship and postdoctoral training at the Medical University of South Carolina/Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. She is a faculty member within the Addiction Sciences Division of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Clinically, Dr. Tomko works with young adults on difficulties with emotion regulation. She specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy.

The overarching goal of Dr. Tomko's research is to improve treatment outcomes for individuals with substance use disorders by understanding individual differences in substance use disorder presentation and identifying which treatments are optimal for a specific individual. Specifically, her research focuses on:

 1. Understanding individual differences in cannabis use patterns, effects of cannabis use, use of cannabis to cope with negative affect, and risk for cannabis use disorder (including how these associations differ by sex, gender, and over the developmental lifespan)

 She recently completed an ecological momentary assessment (EMA) study with young adults to examine gender differences in the progression of negative affect-related cannabis use. Currently, she is examining the role of sex, gender, and ovarian hormones in cannabis use disorder remission.

 2. Translating traditional substance use disorder clinical trial results into personalized treatment recommendations

 Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) determine the efficacy of a treatment for a specific population. Dr. Tomko and colleagues are developing predictive models to translate traditional RCT data for substance use disorders into treatment recommendations for a specific individual.  

 3. Developing technology and assessments to enhance substance use research, particularly clinical trials

 Dr. Tomko also focuses on improving clinical trial methodology to expedite treatment evaluation. She has developed, adapted, and/or validated in-laboratory and ambulatory assessment/EMA techniques that can enhance accuracy of self-report or objectively confirm substance use/medication adherence in the real-world.


Cannabis research:


 Adolescent and young adult-focused substance use research: