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Ongoing Studies

Below is a sampling of ongoing studies within the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences:

A Novel Approach to Reduce the Use, Misuse, and Abuse of Prescription Opioids in Pregnancy

  • Contact: Connie Guille,, 843-792-6849
  • Description: The aim of this study is to gather feedback from pregnant women using prescription opioids who participate in a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Chronic Pain program for the reduction of use, misuse, and abuse of prescription opioid medication(s).

A Pharmacokinetic Comparison of Immediate Release N-Acetylcysteine with Extended Release N-Acetylcysteine in Healthy Adults

  • Contact: Melissa Michel,, 843-792-1901
  • Description: Healthy males and females between the ages of 18-50 years are asked to participate in a 12-day outpatient study. The purpose of this study is to determine if a newly developed extended release version of N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) will be acceptable to replace the currently available immediate release formulation of NAC.

A Randomized Controlled Trial of N-Acetylcysteine for Alcohol Use Disorder and Comorbid PTSD

  • Contact: Stacey Sellers,, 843-792-HELP
  • Description: We are currently recruiting women and men ages 18-70 who have had trauma experience and who use alcohol. This research study includes 12 weekly therapy sessions, as well as random assignment to receive either the study medication or placebo. The study will examine the ability of N-acetylcysteine (NAC), an antioxidant/dietary supplement, to reduce the severity of alcohol cravings and withdrawal, as well as symptoms associated with PTSD.

A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Phase 4, Relapse Prevention Study Evaluating the Efficacy and Safety of Vortioxetine (5, 10, and 20 mg) in Adults with Major Depressive Disorder

  • Contact: Katy Donovan,, 843-724-2945
  • Description: The goal of this study is to evaluate 3 fixed doses (5, 10, and 20 mg or tablets) of vortioxetine (Brintellix) in the prevention of relapse in adult subjects (18-75 years old) with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), recurrent, who responded to acute treatment with vortioxetine. Eligible subjects participate in a 16-week open-label treatment period with vortioxetine, followed by a 32-week double-blind randomized treatment phase.

Adverse Early Childhood Experience and Risk for Poor Obstetric Outcomes in African American Women

  • Contact: Connie Guille,, 843-792-6489
  • Description: The aim of this study is to investigate the impact of early childhood adversity on a laboratory stressor and risk for poor obstetric outcomes.

Apathy in Dementia Methylphenidate Trial 2 (ADMET 2)

  • Contact: Olga Brawman-Mintzer, M.D.,, 843-724-2945
  • Description: Apathy in Dementia Methylphenidate Trial 2 (ADMET 2) is a Phase III, placebo-controlled, masked, 6-month, 10-center randomized clinical trial sponsored by the National Institute of Aging involving 200 participants with Alzheimer's disease (AD). ADMET 2 is designed to examine the efficacy and safety of methylphenidate as treatment for clinically significant apathy in AD participants. ADMET 2 will enroll participants from real-world settings, such as outpatient, nursing home, and assisted living facilities and will examine the effects of methylphenidate on apathy and cognition. ADMET 2 will also conduct careful safety monitoring.

Approach Bias Modification

  • Contact: Brian Sherman, Ph.D.,, 843-792-8174
  • Description: The purpose of this study is to see if an investigational treatment called Approach Bias Modification, or ABM, helps people who are interested in quitting or cutting down on marijuana use. ABM involves using a joystick to respond to marijuana and neutral pictures presented on a computer screen. ABM has been shown to reduce alcohol and nicotine use, but has not yet been tested for marijuana use.

Atomoxetine Treatment for Cognitive Impairment in Parkinson's Disease (ATM-Cog)

  • Sponsor: Michael J. Fox Foundation
  • Contact: Vanessa Hinson, M.D., Ph.D.,, 843-792-6096
  • This is an RCT assessing the safety and efficacy of ATM for cognitive impairment in Parkinson's disease.

Bringing South African Men into HIV Counseling and Testing (HCT) and Care

  • Contact: Dr. Michael D. Sweat,, 843-876-1800
  • Description: The ultimate objective of this research is to provide evidence-based strategies to improve treatment of HIV+ men. Treatment as prevention (TasP) can only work through a three step process: (1) Testing a significant proportion of the population, (2) linkage to care and (3) maintaining in care a significant proportion of HIV+ individuals to the point of viral suppression. The benefits of increased testing, linkage to and maintenance in care for men would be enormous. We propose a study that combines structural and individual level interventions and integrates the results to address our overall objective of maintenance in care to the point of viral suppression.
    •  Aim 1: In a cluster-randomized study, we will investigate whether male-centered mobilization and testing increases the population-level percentage of men who have been tested (within the last 12 months) by more than 10 absolute percentage points.
    • Aim 2: In the individually-randomized design, we will investigate whether POC CD4 testing and individualized case management improves linkage to care (immediately following diagnosis) and viral suppression (12 months later) over POC CD4 testing alone and standard of care.
    • Aim 3: Integrate the results of the two trial components (Aims 1 and 2) to evaluate the joint effect of the interventions on the percentage of HIV+ men who are effectively tested, linked to care and maintained with undetectable VL. The benefits of increased testing, linkage to and maintenance in care for men would be enormous. Men would remain healthier longer, could work and support their families, contribute to rather than deplete household economic resources, raise their children, and they would be less likely to transmit HIV to female partners.

Community-Based Combination HIV Prevention in Tanzania Women at Heightened Risk

  • Contact: Dr. Michael D. Sweat,, 843-876-1800
  • Description: This is a two-arm Phase II community randomized controlled trial of a community-based combination HIV prevention intervention among FSWs in Iringa, Tanzania. The combination package examined includes integrated biomedical, behavioral and structural components: The study will establish base rates of key outcomes including HIV incidence and viral load suppression, examine the socio-structural and behavioral pathways of the intervention, assess feasibility, acceptability and safety, and document preliminary effectiveness. (1) mobile HIV testing and risk reduction counseling; (2) service navigation to facilitate access to treatment and retention in care; (3) sensitivity training for HIV clinical care providers; (4) SMS text messages to promote adherence to care and ART; (5) venue-based peer education and condom distribution; and (6) a community drop- in-center to promote cohesion and collective action to reduce stigma and discrimination. 

Comparison of Pre-Trial Competency to Stand Trial Defendants’ Characteristics on Outcome of Feigning Measures: A Preliminary Study of Local Norms

  • Contact: Jennifer Steadham,, 843-876-2140
  • Description: Deliberate attempts to falsify, fabricate, or grossly exaggerate some aspect of functioning is known as feigning. When feigning is motivated by possibility of external gains (e.g., avoidance of prosecution or lesser punishment), it is known as malingering (Rogers & Shuman, 2005). Malingering has obvious relevance in forensic mental health evaluations, as pre-trial criminal defendants have clear motivations to feign impairment. Feigning strategies can be subdivided into two varieties in criminal forensic contexts: cognitive (i.e., memory or thinking processes) and psychiatric (i.e., symptoms of major mental disorders) impairment. Categorical classifications can be made on the basis of a defendant’s performance on feigning assessment measures, into groups thought to be exaggerating or fabricating impairment (“probable malingerers”) or those thought to be responding honestly (“non-malingerers”). In the last decade, direct examinations comparing the characteristics of competency defendants suspected of malingering versus non-malingerers, as classified by feigning measures, have been sparse and most often included as an incidental question in a larger study. For the current study, a sample of competence to stand trial evaluations conducted by MUSC’s Forensic Psychiatry Program will be reviewed. Competency to stand trial reports dated 2011 through August 2015 will be included for review. Evaluation reports will be coded for examinee (e.g., demographic, psychiatric diagnoses, and mental status descriptions) and evaluator characteristics (i.e., specialty field).

CSP556  “rTMS for Depressed Veterans”

  • Contact: Matt Schmidt,, 843-577-5011, x5209
  • Description: This is study for veterans only who have depression. The treatment given is Transcranial Magnetic stimulation. It is a double blind study with a sham (placebo) possibility. There is a screening phase of about 1 week, a treatment phase of 4-6 weeks, and a follow up phase where subjects come in once per month for 5 months. All procedures and assessments done at Ralph Johnson VA. Subject compensation is available up to $400.00.  

Development and Standardization of an iPhone-Based Application for Quantitative Measurement of the Pupillary Light Reflex in Healthy Adults and Patients with Parkinson’s disease (iDilate)

  • Sponsor: Chairs Departmental Research Foundation
  • Contact: Jenna Renfroe, Ph.D.,, 843-792-6096
  • Description: This aim of this project is to develop and standardize an application that would allow clinicians, researchers, and community-based safety personnel (e.g., police and EMS) to obtain quantitative measurements of the pupillary light reflex, a highly sensitive measure of neurological functioning.

Discontinuation from Chronic Opioid Therapy Using Buprenorphine

  • Contact: Kayla W,, 843-792-0684
  • Description: The purpose of this study is to: (1) evaluate the tolerability of buprenorphine for patients on chronic opioid therapy for pain, (2) evaluate the efficacy of gabapentin in improving outcomes for patients undergoing buprenorphine-assisted taper from chronic opioid therapy for pain, and (3) identify potential predictors of opioid cessation.
  • Compensation is available
  • Study medication provided at no cost

Dyadic-Based Diagnosis, Care & Prevention for Discordant Couples in Tanzania

  • Contact: Dr. Michael D. Sweat,, 843-876-1800
  • Description: The primary goal for the proposed study is to examine the feasibility, safety, and impact on improved care and prevention of novel strategies to identify and engage HIV sero-discordant couples in an integrated prevention and treatment intervention.

Eagle Eye: Validation of Computer-Based Saccade Measures as a Sensitive, Reliable, and Freely Available Biomarker for Tracking Subtle Neurocognitive Changes in Parkinson's Disease

  • Sponsor: Michael J. Fox Foundation
  • Contact:Jenna Renfroe, Ph.D.,, 843-792-6096
  • Description: This study aims to validate a computer-based task to enable clinicians and researchers to measure saccades without the cost and complexity of traditional eye-tracking equipment.

Effects of Oxytocin on Alcohol Cravings and Intimate Partner Aggression

  • Contact: Alexis Adams, adamsale@musc.edu843-792-8187 (PI: Julianne Flanagan, Ph.D.)
  • Description: A laboratory paradigm studying the effects of oxytocin on couples' communication skills and behaviors and alcohol cravings. Participation requires only one visit and both partners willing to participate.

Enhancing Disrupted Reconsolidation: Impact on Cocaine Craving, Reactivity & Use

  • Contact: Amanda Smith,, 843-792-6984
  • Description: The purpose of this double-blind, placebo-controlled study is to examine whether beta-adrenergic antagonist propranolol can attenuate cocaine-associated memories and thereby reduce cocaine craving, cue reactivity, and use in cocaine dependent participants. Participants will receive either placebo, 40mg, or 80mg of propranolol after each of two laboratory sessions of cocaine cue exposure. Participants will be evaluated on cocaine craving, physiological reactivity to cocaine cues, and cocaine use in follow-up sessions for 6 weeks.

Enhancing the Identification of Victims of Child Pornography Production and Distribution

  • Contacts: Dr. Diana Mullis, 843-792-1461
  • Description: A unique collaboration with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has enabled access to data from a national registry of identified child pornography victims for the first time outside the federal government. The research team has built a database to examine characteristics of identified child pornography victims; how they are identified; relationships between child and perpetrator characteristics; details about the child pornography offenses.  This is a multi-national joint project with MUSC CPSPD, Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research, University of Ottawa, Canada and School of Health in Social Science, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. Funded by a Thorn Foundation grant.

Evaluating N-acetylcysteine as a Pharmacotherapy for Tobacco Use Disorder 

  • Contact: PI: Erin McClure, Ph.D. (; Referrals: Team Intake Coordinator (; Study Management: Patrick Cato (
  • Description: The purpose of this study is to assess the effects of N-Acetylcysteine (NAC), an over-the-counter antioxidant, to assist adult cigarette smokers with quitting and preventing relapse to smoking. This medication may help people quit smoking by reducing withdrawal symptoms, craving, and preventing relapse, but we do not know if NAC helps smokers early in their quit attempt or after they have already quit.

Evaluating Smoking and Relapse in Adolescents and Emerging Adults Using Remote Monitoring Technology 

  • Contact: PI: Erin McClure, Ph.D. (; Referrals: Team Intake Coordinator (; Study Management: Patrick Cato (
  • Description: This is a research study that will test a new remote monitoring technology to assess smoking in the natural environment among adolescents and young adults ages 15-25. After assessment and inclusion in the study, participants will be asked to report on their smoking by answering questions on a mobile phone for 35 days. Participants will also be asked to make a brief quit attempt lasting for approximately 48 hours. Remote monitoring technology has the potential for fewer clinic visits and a better understanding of smoking among adolescents and young adults.

Evaluation of Cue-Induced Brain Activation in Pedophilic Offenders

  • Contact: Dr. Diana Mullis, 843-792-1461
  • Description: This study adapts fMRI neuroimaging to evaluate cue-induced changes in regional brain activity in men with Pedophilic Disorder compared to men without the disorder. It has significant potential for knowledge acquisition. Neuroimaging technology has been used to a limited extent to address the neurobiological underpinnings of deviant sexual behavior, but studies are limited in number as well as in scope. It extends results of previous neuroimaging studies by assessing regional brain activity after cue stimulation with a control group during simultaneous fMRI and penile plethysmography. Funded by a University of Ottawa Medical Research Fund grant; joint with Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research, University of Ottawa.

Family-Based Treatment for Parental Substance Abuse and Child Maltreatment

  • Contact: Dr. Cynthia C. Swenson,,  843-876-1800
  • Description: The purpose of this randomized controlled trial is to examine the effectiveness of the Building Stronger Families Model versus standard services in Connecticut for physically abused and/or neglected children whose parents are experiencing severe substance abuse. The study is being implemented through a community based mental health provider. Key outcomes under examination include child behavior, parent behavior, family relations, parent to child violence, reabuse, placement, and parental substance abuse.

Gabapentin for Relapse Prevention: Alcohol Withdrawal-Brain GABA/Glutamate Effects 

  • Contact: Konstantin Voronin,, 843-792-4887
  • Description: This treatment study is a 16-week outpatient clinical trial where subjects will get medication, which might help them to reduce or stop their drinking, or a placebo. This study will recruit and randomize subjects who have expressed an interest in receiving treatment for alcohol dependence. Upon enrollment into this study there will be 11 outpatient visits. Each visit will last about 1-1.5 hours. 

Girls' Experiences in Middle School (GEMS)

  • Contact: Jennifer Powell,, 843-876-0567
  • Description: Participants are needed for the Girls’ Experiences in Middle School (GEMS) Study, a research study to understand girls’ thoughts, emotions, and experiences. Girls attending any middle school in the Charleston, SC area are eligible. If interested call, email, or visit and fill out a Parent Contact Form. 

Group Motivational Interviewing (GMI) for Homeless Veterans in VA Services

  • Contact: Kayla Lamb,, 843-577-5011, x5310
  • Description: We are seeking Veterans who are homeless or in the VA Homeless Program to voluntarily enroll in a VA research study comparing two types of treatment for Veterans who have an alcohol misuse problem. Eligible participants will attend one of two groups: a motivational enhancement group therapy, called ‘The Self-Change Program’, designed to enhance motivation to make a healthier change around using substances by exploring personal goals, values, and strengths for making a change, or a Like Skills Educational Group therapy for improving quality of life and enhancing home stability. The study will recruit participants from within three locations: the Charleston VA Medical Center, the Myrtle Beach Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC), and the Savannah, GA CBOC. Compensation will be provided to qualified participants.  

Impulsivity and Drinking/Craving: Effect of a Dopamine Stabilizer Medication

  • Contact: Mark Ghent,, 843-792-1222
  • Description: This non treatment study investigates the effects of a medication in response to alcohol. Individuals (ages 21-40) who complete the study will be paid for their participation. This study does not involve alcohol treatment. 

Integrative Risk Reduction and Treatment for PTSD and Teen Substance Use Problems

  • Contact: Anna Smalling,, 843-792-8361
  • Description: This program involves a randomized controlled trial (RCT) with subjects ages 13-18 years who have experienced interpersonal violence (physical or sexual abuse/assault, exposure to domestic violence, witness community violence). Subjects are randomized to either receive Risk Reduction through Family Therapy (RRFT) or Treatment As Usual (TAU). Youth will be recruited from local child advocacy centers and the interventions are psychosocial in nature. Follow-up assessments will be conducted at multiple time points through 18-month post entry.

Internet Crimes Against Children: Development of a Typology of Offenders for Use in Prevention, Investigations and Treatment

  • Contact: Dr. Diana Mullis, 843-792-1461
  • Description: This study is based on the collection and analysis of data from Internet Crimes against Children (ICAC) investigated by ICAC Task Forces in 20+ states. The inferential analysis of perpetrator, victim and offense data and content analysis of Internet chats to solicit children serves to inform the mental health, social services, education and legal fields for use in forensic evaluations, treatment planning, criminal investigations, court proceedings and developing public safety strategies for protecting our communities’ youth. Funded by Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention grant # 2010-MC-CX-4003; joint with the University of South Carolina.

N-Acetylcysteine for Youth Cannabis Use Disorder (NAC-ItOff) 

  • Contact: Referrals – Intake Team (; Study Management - Lori Ann Ueberroth (
  • Description: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of the medication N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) to help young people quit using marijuana. NAC is an over-the-counter supplement and antioxidant that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in adults and children for other uses, but has not been approved by the FDA for treatment of marijuana use disorder. Volunteers ages 14-21 are needed for this study. 

Neural Substrates of Emotion: Impact of Cocaine Dependence

  • Contact: Lisa Nunn,, 843-792-0476 
  • Description: This study explores the effect of oxytocin on stress response and brain reactivity in individuals with cocaine dependence. We are recruiting cocaine dependent individuals and non- drug using, smoking controls. Participation consists of a screening visit and one MRI scanning visit.

Oxytocin to Enhance Alcohol Behavioral Couples Therapy
Contact: Alexis Adams,, 843-792-8187
Description: A randomized control trial researching the effects of oxytocin on couples therapy. Treatment includes twelve weekly sessions of ACBT and oxytocin/placebo. Recruiting couples who want to work on their relationship and at least one partner drinks alcohol. 

Phase II RCT of Comprehensive Triage HIV Prevention: Tanzania

  • Contact: Dr. Michael D. Sweat,, 843-876-1800
  • Description: The purpose of this study is to conduct a rigorous 3-year Phase II trial of a promising HIV prevention strategy designed to significantly reduce population-level HIV incidence in rural developing country settings with severe generalized HIV epidemics.

Protecting Children Online: Using Research-Based Algorithms to Prioritize Law Enforcement Internet Investigations

  • Contact: Dr. Diana Mullis, 843-792-1461
  • Description: Using data from ICAC Task Forces across the U.S. to develop empirically-based algorithms to assist law enforcement in prioritizing  cases of: child pornography production over possession/ distribution; online luring to meet a minor to commit sexual offenses, over luring restricted to online behavior such as sexual chat or exchanging pornographic images; hands-on sexual offense offenders against children over cases of offenders with no known history. Funded by Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention grant # 2011-MC-CX-0002; joint with University of South Carolina, Johns Hopkins University & University of Ottawa.

Psychological First Aid for Victims of Crime

  • Contact: Dr. Michael McCart,, 843-876-1800
  • Description: This study aims to implement and refine research protocols required for a full-scale randomized clinical trial of Psychological First Aid (PFA) for adult victims of crime. PFA is a promising acute intervention designed to reduce the severity and duration of trauma-related distress. Law Enforcement Victim Advocates are being trained to implement PFA with adult crime victims. A pilot trial is comparing PFA to usual services on key mental health outcomes from baseline through 4 months post-baseline.

Reward Functioning,Traumatic Stress, and Mental Health in Teen Girls

  • Contact: Jesse Walker,, 843-792-7067
  • Description: Researchers at MUSC are recruiting teen girls aged 13-17 to participate in a research study using brain imaging (MRI, EEG) to understand connections between childhood experiences and mental health. Dates and times for participation are flexible. The study will involve one visit to the MUSC campus (2.5-3 hours). Compensation is provided. 

rTMS for Adolescent Depression

  • Contact: 843-792-5702
  • Description: We are investigating the safety and efficacy of repetitive TMS as a treatment for adolescent depression for those aged 12-21 years old. We are seeking adolescents of this age range who have not received sufficient benefit from at least one antidepressant medication trial. TMS is currently FDA approved for treating adult depression.

rTMS for Bipolar Depression

  • Contact: 843-792-5702
  • Description: We are investigating repetitive TMS as a treatment for bipolar depression in conjunction with mood stabilizers in adults aged 22-68 years old. We are seeking treatment refractory patients with bipolar disorder. TMS is currently FDA approved for treating adult depression.

Sexually Violent Predators and the Impact of Substance Addiction: A Pilot Study

  • Contact: Drs. Diana Mullis and Thomas Lewis III, 843-792-1461
  • Description: This study evaluates persons committed under the South Carolina Sexually Violent predator (SVP) Act with regard to substance usage, mental health diagnoses, criminal justice, and sex offense data to better understand their relationships. By utilizing SVP Act Multidisciplinary Team review data, information can be obtained comparing persons recommended for commitment to those dismissed from the review process. Given the dearth of empirical study of this population, employing the depth and breadth of data to be examined will enable this pilot study to further the field and public safety efforts at the community level. The Principal Investigator for this study is a General Psychiatry Resident in the DART program with associated funding support.

Synthesizing HIV Behavioral Intervention Effectiveness in Developing Countries

  • Contact: Dr. Michael D. Sweat,, 843-876-1800
  • Description: This is a project in which we are conducting systematic reviews and meta-analysis on evidence of effectiveness of a variety of HIV behavioral interventions in developing countries.

Testing a Promising Treatment for Youth Substance Abuse in a Community Setting

  • Contact: Dr. Scott W. Henggeler,, 843-876-1800
  • Description: The overriding purpose of the proposed randomized trial is to examine the effectiveness of a promising outpatient treatment of adolescent substance abuse delivered in a community-based treatment setting.

The Effects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) on Chronic Lower Back Pain

  • Contact:, 843-779-2493
  • Description: The purpose of this study is to determine whether a new medical technology, called Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS), can help reduce chronic lower back pain and reduce the need for pain medication when applied in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy (“talk therapy”). tDCS is a minimally-invasive technique (i.e., it does not involve any surgical procedures, additional medication or sedation, or needles) that uses a very small amount of electricity to temporarily stimulate specific brain areas in awake people. The electrical current passes through the skin, scalp, hair, and skull and can temporarily increase or decrease activity in areas of the brain that are thought to be involved with pain reduction.




  • Be between the ages of 18 - 70 
  • Suffer from chronic pain
  • Be a United States Veteran
  • Take a prescription pain medication 

The Impact of E-Liquid Components on Product Appeal, Reinforcement Value, and Tobacco Use Patterns

  • Contact: Noelle Natale, 843-876-2441
  • The purpose of this study is to investigate the ingredients of e-liquid that are often used for e-cigarettes and other vaping devices. There are 3 in person visits over a period of 2 weeks, one of which is a sampling visit where you would sample 3 different e-liquids with an e-cigarette. You will also be sent home with one of the e-liquids and e-cigarette to sample for a week. 

TMS for Nicotine Addiction

  • Contact: Scott Henderson or Xingbao Li, or, 843-792-5560 or 843-792-5729
  • Description: This is a double blind randomized controlled smoking cessation research study sponsored by the National Institute of Drug Abuse. This study is designed to ascertain whether repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) can affect things that may prompt you to want to smoke and the consumption of cigarettes over a 3-month period. After assessment and inclusion into the study, participants will be randomized to receive a 10-time active rTMS or placebo-like rTMS. Participants must be (1) current cigarette smokers; (2) between 18-60 years old; (3) able to commit approximately 13 hours of time to the study; and (4) have no metal in their body. Compensation will be provided.
Disclaimer: Some of the studies on this page may have ended. To find out if a study is still active, please contact the study coordinator listed. Thank you.