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 research focuses on the application of neurocognitive models and brain imaging to better characterize risk factors for substance abuse and psychiatric conditions. She has been studying the impact of cannabis on the brain for over two decades using neurocognitive, clinical and diagnostic assessments and multimodal brain imaging techniques.
Her work examining the etiologic bases of neural models of dysfunction in cannabis-using adolescents and adults has been published in numerous peer reviewed journals and been the basis of national and international symposia, documentaries, news stories and press conferences, including features in the New York Times, NPR, and CNN’s documentary series “WEED” with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Her ongoing initiative to educate policymakers, judges, attorneys and the general public about the neurobiologic differences between adults and adolescents as well as additional factors that contribute to the impact of cannabis on the brain have had both local and national impact on policy formation. In fact, Dr. Gruber recently testified at the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control hearing entitled, “Marijuana and America’s Health: Questions and Issues for Policy Makers.”
Dr. Gruber recognized the importance of examining the impact of medical cannabis use on the brain, as there are many inherent differences between recreational and medical cannabis users. Accordingly, in 2014, Dr. Gruber launched Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND), the first ever program of its kind designed to clarify the specific effects of medical cannabis use. MIND utilizes valid, robust research models and 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 the director of MIND, Dr. Gruber has generated major contributions to the field as the first investigator to assess medical cannabis patients longitudinally, first to acquire neuroimaging data in medical cannabis patients, and as Principal Investigator of the first ever clinical trial of a whole plant-derived, high cannabidiol (CBD) product which she specifically formulated to treat anxiety; other novel clinical trials have been approved and are pending.