The Third Coast Center for AIDS Research congratulates Joshua M. Schrock, PhD, MPH, for receiving a K01 award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Dr. Schrock is a research assistant professor at Northwestern University’s Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing (ISGMH).
Depression and substance use disorders occur at disproportionately high rates in people living with HIV. Dr. Schrock’s project will develop and test a new conceptual model to help explain how these common comorbidities develop.
People living with HIV experience higher levels of systemic inflammation because of damage from the virus. This elevated inflammation may reduce connectivity in the brain’s central executive network (CEN), a key brain system for coping with stress. This reduced capacity for coping with stress may lead to more depressive symptoms and more substance use. Depressive symptoms and substance use, in turn, may interfere with treatment adherence. Lower treatment adherence may then increase systemic inflammation even further. Together, these changes create a feedback loop (see image below), leading to worsening depressive symptoms and substance use over time in some people living with HIV.
Brian Mustanski, PhD, director of the Third Coast CFAR, will serve as Dr. Schrock’s lead mentor for this project. Richard D’Aquila, MD, co-director of the Third Coast CFAR, and Robin Nusslock, PhD, are co-mentors on this award.
The Third Coast CFAR provided a Core Subsidy Award and a Pilot Award (Principal Investigator: Dr. Nusslock) that allowed Dr. Schrock and his mentors to collect pilot data for his K01 project.
In a separate but related line of research, Dr. Schrock received a Third Coast CFAR Pilot Award to study marijuana-driven adipokine signaling as a regulator of systemic inflammation among participants living with and without HIV in the RADAR cohort.
Prior to his current appointment, Dr. Schrock was a postdoctoral fellow and research associate at ISGMH. He received his PhD in biological anthropology at the University of Oregon, an MPH from Emory University, and a BA in anthropology from Ohio State University.
“I extend a profound thank you to members of the Third Coast CFAR, ISGMH’s RADAR team, and the Nusslock Lab, without whom I could not have developed this project,” said Dr. Schrock.