Cognitive and Clinical Neuroimaging Core, McLean Hospital
MIND Program, McLean Hospital
McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School

Dr. Staci Gruber is the Director of the Cognitive and Clinical Neuroimaging Core at McLean Hospital’s 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 marijuana-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

Dahlgren MK, Sagar KA, Smith RT, Lambros AM, Kuppe MK, & Gruber SA (2020). Recreational cannabis use impairs driving performance in the absence of acute intoxication. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 208, doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2019.107771

Hooley JM, Dahlgren MK, Best SG, Gonenc A, & Gruber SA (2020). Decreased amygdalar activation to NSSI-stimuli in people who engage in NSSI: A neuroimaging pilot study. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 11, 238, doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2020.00238


Shollenbarger S, Thomas A, Wade N, Gruber S, Tapert SF, Filbey F, & Lisdahl K. Intrinsic frontolimbic connectivity and mood symptoms in young adult cannabis users. Frontiers in Public Health 2019, 7, 311, doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2019.00311

Mashhoon Y, Sagar KA, Gruber SA (2019). Cannabis Use and Consequences in L. Lundahl and D.R. Rosenberg (Ed.) Pediatric Clinics, Substance Abuse Special Issue.

Sagar, KA & Gruber, S (2018). Interactions between recreational cannabis use and cognitive function: lessons from functional magnetic imaging. Annals of the New York Academy of Science. 1-29. doi: 10.1111/nyas.13990

Sagar, KA & Gruber, S (2018). Marijuana matters: reviewing the impact of marijuana on cognition, brain structure and function, & exploring policy implications and barriers to research. International Review of Psychiatry. 1-17. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2017.00983


Sagar, KA, Lambros, AM, Dahlgren, MK, Smith, RT, Gruber, SA (2018). Made from concentrate? A national web survey assessing dab use in the United States. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 190, 133-142. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2018.05.022

Gruber, SA, Sagar, KA, Dahlgren, MK, Gonenc, A, Smith, RT, Lambros, AM, . . . Lukas, S. E. (2018). The Grass Might Be Greener: Medical Marijuana Patients Exhibit Altered Brain Activity and Improved Executive Function after 3 Months of Treatment. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 8. doi:10.3389/fphar.2017.00983

Gruber, SA, & Sagar, KA (2017). Marijuana on the Mind? The Impact of Marijuana on Cognition, Brain Structure, and Brain Function, and Related Public Policy Implications. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 4(1), pp. 104-111. doi:10.1177/2372732216684851


Gruber SA, Sagar KA, Dahlgren MK, Racine MT, Smith RT, Lukas SE (2016). Splendor in the grass? A pilot study assessing the impact of medical marijuana on executive function. Frontiers in Psychopharmacology, 7:355. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2016.0035


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.