Dr. Staci Gruber is the Director of the Cognitive and Clinical Neuroimaging Core and Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) program at McLean Hospital’s Brain Imaging Center and an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Gruber’s research focuses on the application of neurocognitive models and multimodal brain imaging to better characterize neurobiological risk factors for substance use and psychiatric conditions, and to assess the impact of cannabis and cannabinoid exposure on outcomes related to brain health, cognition, and clinical state.
From the beginning of her career, Dr. Gruber has focused on examining 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.
Dr. Gruber directs The Cognitive and Clinical Neuroimaging Core (CCNC), established in 2008. Dr. Gruber’s goal is to identify risk factors for mental illness and substance use by examining cognitive and affective correlates of neural systems that may mediate symptoms of psychiatric disorders and behaviors related to substance abuse. The CCNC collaborates with numerous investigators both within and outside of McLean Hospital.
Given the many inherent differences between recreational and medical cannabis users, Dr. Gruber launched Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) in 2014, the first ever program of its kind designed to clarify the specific effects of medical cannabis use. MIND supports numerous projects designed to address the impact of medical cannabis on a number of important variables including cognition, brain structure and function, clinical state, quality of life, pain, sleep, and other health-related measures. As director of MIND, Dr. Gruber has generated major contributions to the field as the first to assess medical cannabis patients longitudinally, first to acquire neuroimaging data in medical cannabis patients, and as Principal Investigator of the first clinical trial of a full-spectrum, high-cannabidiol (CBD) product, which she specifically formulated to treat anxiety. Additional, novel clinical trials have been approved and are pending or currently underway. Dr. Gruber also launched the Women’s Health Initiative at MIND, or WHIM, the first cannabis-focused program designed specifically to address women’s health and disorders that disproportionately affect women, such as menstrual- or menopause-related conditions. Her ongoing initiative to educate policymakers, judges, attorneys and the general public about both the potential risks and benefits of cannabis use has already had both local and national public policy.
The pot doc
Dr. Gruber is often referred to as the Pot Doc... curious about its origin? In his CNN documentary WEED, Dr. Sanjay Gupta first heard the nickname while interviewing Dr. Gruber. Former research participants were calling her the Pot Doc because they had never met someone as interested in hearing about their cannabis use as she was! Dr. Gruber, the Pot Doc, continues to search for answers about the good, the bad, and the truth when it comes to cannabis!
Education & Training
BM - Jazz Studies/Vocal Performance, New England Conservatory of Music
BS - Psychology, Tufts University
EdM - Human Development and Psychology, Harvard Graduate School of Education
MS - Psychology/Experimental Cognitive Neuroscience, Tufts University
PhD - Psychology/Experimental Cognitive Neuroscience, Tufts University
Research Fellow - Psychiatry, McLean Hospital/ Harvard Medical School
Post-Doctoral Fellow - Neuroimaging and Neuropsychology, McLean Hospital/ Harvard Medical School
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