Cognitive and Clinical Neuroimaging Core, McLean Hospital
MIND Program, McLean Hospital

Harvard Medical School

Dr. Staci Gruber is the Director of the Cognitive and Clinical Neuroimaging Core at McLean Hospitals Brain Imaging Center and an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Gruber’s clinical and research focus is the application of neurocognitive models and multimodal brain imaging to better characterize neurobiological risk factors for substance abuse and psychopathology, particularly disruptions of the frontal network. In recent work, her lab has examined the etiologic bases of neural models of dysfunction in patients with bipolar disorder as well as cannabis-using adolescents and adults, the results of which have been published in numerous peer reviewed journals and been the basis of national and international symposia, documentaries and press conferences. Dr. Gruber has also been involved in the application of behavioral science to help shape policies regarding juvenile advocacy and defense; her lab’s work in adolescent development was part of the Amicus brief leading to the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roper v. Simmons, which states that it is unconstitutional to execute minors. Her ongoing initiative to educate policymakers, judges, attorneys and the general public in the differences between adults and adolescents and the impact of cannabis on the brain has already had both local and national impact on policy formation.  Dr. Gruber directs the recently launched the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) Program, designed to clarify the effects of medical cannabis (MC) on brain structure, function, and quality of life.  



Dr. Gruber is often referred to as the 'Pot Doc' -- but where did this nickname come from? Dr. Gruber first shared the origins of 'Pot Doc' in an interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta for his CNN documentary entitled WEED. Former research participants actually began referring to Dr. Gruber as the 'Pot Doc' because they had never meet anybody as interested in hearing about their cannabis use as she was! To this day, both recreational cannabis users and medical cannabis patients still fondly use this nickname for Dr. Gruber, who continues to search for answers about the good, the bad, and the truth when it comes to cannabis!

RECENT publications

Zolotov Y, Gruber SA. Cannabis and aging: research remains in its infancy. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2021 Aug 10:1-4. doi: 10.1080/00952990.2021.1949334.

Sagar KA, Dahlgren MK, Lambros AM, Smith RT, El-Abboud C, Gruber SA. An Observational, Longitudinal Study of Cognition in Medical Cannabis Patients over the Course of 12 Months of Treatment: Preliminary Results. J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2021 Jul;27(6):648-660. doi: 10.1017/S1355617721000114. 

Gruber SA, Smith RT, Dahlgren MK, Lambros AM, Sagar KA. No pain, all gain? Interim analyses from a longitudinal, observational study examining the impact of medical cannabis treatment on chronic pain and related symptoms. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2021 Apr;29(2):147-156. doi: 10.1037/pha0000435.

Dahlgren MK, Sagar KA, Lambros AM, Smith RT, Gruber SA. Urinary Tetrahydrocannabinol After 4 Weeks of a Full-Spectrum, High-Cannabidiol Treatment in an Open-label Clinical Trial. JAMA Psychiatry. 2021 Mar 1;78(3):335-337. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2020.3567. 

Lebois LAM, Li M, Baker JT, Wolff JD, Wang D, Lambros AM, Grinspoon E, Winternitz S, Ren J, Gönenç A, Gruber SA, Ressler KJ, Liu H, Kaufman ML. Large-Scale Functional Brain Network Architecture Changes Associated With Trauma-Related Dissociation. Am J Psychiatry. 2021 Feb 1;178(2):165-173. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2020.19060647. 

Cohen JFW, Sagar K, Dahlgren MK, Kurdziel LBF, Gruber SA. The Impact of Micronutrient Fortified Foods on Cognitive Functioning among Low-Income Children: A Pilot and Feasibility Study. Nutrients. 2020 Oct 30;12(11):3351. doi: 10.3390/nu12113351

Wade NE, Bagot KS, Tapert SF, Gruber SA, Filbey FM, Lisdahl KM. Cognitive Functioning Related to Binge Alcohol and Cannabis Co-Use in Abstinent Adolescents and Young Adults. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2020 Jul;81(4):479-483. doi: 10.15288/jsad.2020.81.479. PMID: 32800084; PMCID: PMC7437560.

Hooley JM, Dahlgren MK, Best SG, Gonenc A, Gruber SA. Decreased Amygdalar Activation to NSSI-Stimuli in People Who Engage in NSSI: A Neuroimaging Pilot Study. Front Psychiatry. 2020 Apr 2;11:238. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2020.00238. PMID: 32300315; PMCID: PMC7143895.

Dahlgren MK, Sagar KA, Smith RT, Lambros AM, Kuppe MK, Gruber SA. Recreational cannabis use impairs driving performance in the absence of acute intoxication. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2020 Mar 1;208:107771. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2019.107771. Epub 2020 Jan 14. PMID: 31952821.

Wade NE, Thomas AM, Gruber SA, Tapert SF, Filbey FM, Lisdahl KM. Binge and Cannabis Co-Use Episodes in Relation to White Matter Integrity in Emerging Adults. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2020 Feb 27;5(1):62-72. doi: 10.1089/can.2018.0062.

Mashhoon Y, Sagar KA, Gruber SA. Cannabis Use and Consequences. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2019 Dec;66(6):1075-1086. doi: 10.1016/j.pcl.2019.08.004.

For more publications from our lab, please click here.


To learn more about our lab members, please visit our People page!


For more info about Dr. Gruber's lab, the CCNC, please click here to view our dedicated webpage.


For more info about the MIND program, please click here to view our dedicated webpage.