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Annabelle M. Belcher, PhD

Academic Title:

Assistant Professor

Primary Appointment:



University of Maryland Drug Treatment Center 1001 W. Pratt Street

Phone (Primary):


Education and Training

  • Loyola University New Orleans, BA, Psychology
  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH-IRP/NIH), Laboratory of Neuropsychology (mentor: Mortimer Mishkin), Pre-Doctoral IRTA
  • University of California, Irvine, PhD, Neurobiology & Behavior (mentor: John F. Marshall)
  • University of California, Santa Barbara, MacArthur Foundation Law & Neuroscience Project Post-Doctoral Fellow (mentors: Michael Gazzaniga and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong)
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA-IRP/NIH), Neuroimaging Research Branch (mentors: Elliot A. Stein and Afonso C. Silva), Post-Doctoral IRTA


My research interests are in the identification of non-pharmacological approaches to increase positive outcomes of Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) Treatment (primarily, methadone).  

Other areas of research interest include:

-Implementation and clinical outcomes of telemedicine-based delivery of medication for OUD in rural jails and other settings (collaboration with Eric Weintraub, MD)

-Understanding barriers to naloxone access and use in populations of PWUD (collaboration with Eric Wish, PhD)

-Characterization of impulsivity in treatment-seeking OUD-diagnosed individuals (collaboration with Kristen Hamilton, PhD)

-Non-reinforcing properties of methadone (collaboration with Sergi Ferre, MD, PhD)

Research/Clinical Keywords

Opioid Use Disorder, Learning and Memory, Substance Use Disorders, Methadone Treatment, Individual Differences, Susceptibility and Resilience to SUD, Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) Treatment, Telemedicine for OUD

Highlighted Publications

A complete list of all published work can be found in MyNCBI:

Belcher AM, Coble K, Cole TO, Welsh CJ, Whitney A, Weintraub E. Buprenorphine Induction in a Rural Maryland Detention Center During COVID-19: Implementation and Preliminary Outcomes of a Novel Telemedicine Treatment Program for Incarcerated Individuals With Opioid Use Disorder. Front Psychiatry. 2021 Oct 28;12:703685. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.703685. PMID: 34777036.

Weintraub E, Seneviratne C, Anane J, Coble K, Magidson J, Kattakuzhy S, Greenblatt A, Welsh C, Pappas A, Ross TL, Belcher AM. Mobile Telemedicine for Buprenorphine Treatment in Rural Populations With Opioid Use Disorder. JAMA Netw Open. 2021 Aug 2;4(8):e2118487. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.18487. PMID: 34448869.

Deutsch-Link S, Belcher AM, Massey E, Cole TO, Wagner MA, Billing AS, Greenblatt AD, Weintraub E, Wish ED. Race-based differences in drug use prior to onset of opioid use disorder. J Ethn Subst Abuse. 2021 Feb 7:1-17. doi: 10.1080/15332640.2021.1879702. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33554763. *corresponding author

Weintraub E, Greenblatt AD, Chang J, Welsh CJ, Berthiaume AP, Goodwin SR, Arnold R, Himelhoch SS, Bennett ME, Belcher AM. Outcomes for patients receiving telemedicine-delivered medication-based treatment for Opioid Use Disorder: A retrospective chart review. Heroin Addict Relat Clin Probl. 2021;23(2):5-12. PMID: 33551692. *corresponding author

Cole TO, Robinson D, Kelley-Freeman A, Gandhi D, Greenblatt AD, Weintraub E, Belcher AM. Patient Satisfaction With Medications for Opioid Use Disorder Treatment via Telemedicine: Brief Literature Review and Development of a New Assessment. Front Public Health. 2021 Jan 21;8:557275. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2020.557275. PMID: 33553083. *corresponding author

Belcher AM*, Cole TO, Greenblatt AD, Hoag SW, Epstein DH, Wagner M, Billing AS, Massey E, Hamilton KR, Kozak ZK, Welsh CJ, Weintraub E, Wickwire EM, Wish ED, Kaptchuk TJ, Colloca L. Open-label dose-extending placebos for opioid use disorder: a protocol for a randomised controlled clinical trial with methadone treatment. BMJ Open. 2019 Jun 21;9(6):e026604. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-026604. PubMed PMID: 31230007 *corresponding author

Cai NS, Quiroz C, Bonaventura J, Bonifazi A, Cole TO, Purks J, Billing AS, Massey E, Wagner M, Wish ED, Guitart X, Rea W, Lam S, Moreno E, Casadó-Anguera V, Greenblatt AD, Jacobson AE, Rice KC, Casadó V, Newman AH, Winkelman JW, Michaelides M, Weintraub E, Volkow ND, Belcher AM*, Ferré S*. Opioid-galanin receptor heteromers mediate the dopaminergic effects of opioids. J Clin Invest. 2019 Mar 26;130:2730-2744. doi: 10.1172/JCI126912. PubMed PMID: 30913037 *co-corresponding author

Belcher AM, Lejuez CW, Moeller FG, Volkow ND and Ferre S (2018). Choice Impulsivity, a drug-modifiable personality trait. In: Pickard and Ahmed (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy and Science of Addiction.

Belcher AM, Volkow ND, Moeller FG, Ferré S. Personality traits and vulnerability or resilience to substance use disorders. Trends Cogn Sci. 2014 Apr;18(4):211-7. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2014.01.010. Epub 2014 Mar 5. Review. PubMed PMID: 24612993

Belcher AM, Volkow ND, Moeller F, Ferre S. The Cognitive Neurosciences V (fifth edition). Gazzaniga MS, Mangun GR, editors. Cambridge: MIT; 2014. Chapter 88, Society and addiction: Bringing understanding toward appreciation of a mental health disorder. p.1035-1042.

Awards and Affiliations


1999-  Member, Society for Neuroscience
2002, 2003, 2004 UCI Biological Sciences Travel Award Fellowship
2003                UCI Biological Sciences Travel Award Fellowship
2003-2004 Co-Organizer, Annual CNLM Neuroscience Symposium, UCI
2004 UCI Biological Sciences Travel Award Fellowship
2004-2006 Steering Committee, NSF ADVANCE Biomedical Research Trainee Network, UCI
2005-2009 Member, Molecular and Cellular Cognition Society
2007 UCI Minority Biomedical Research Support Program Awardee
2008  American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Policy Fellowship
2008- Member, Professional Women’s Nexus
2011  NIDA Director’s Award of Merit
2009-2011  NIDA Representative, FelCom Post-Doctoral IRTA Committee, NIH
2013  NIDA FARE Award for Research Excellence



Grants and Contracts

NCCIH Administrative Supplement (Grant #1R61AT010799; PI: Jessica Magidson [UMCP]) 09/01/20-08/31/22 

Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on methadone treatment retention in an unerserved, minority population with OUD

The goal of this study is to evaluate the impact that COVID-19-related changes to methadone treatment regulations may have on methadone treatment outcomes.

Role: Sub-Award P.I. (20% effort)



The Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts (FORE)  (multi-PI with Eric Weintraub)         4/01/20-03/31/22

Treatment with Buprenorphine through Telemedicine in a Rural Criminal Justice Setting

The goal of this program is to implement new programs of telemedicine-based medications for OUD to three rural detention centers. I led the writing and am the primary outcomes evaluator for this clinical service and research grant.

Role: co-I (15% effort)


R61 1R61AT010799 (PI: Jessica Magidson)                                                          09/01/19-08/31/21      

Peer-Delivered Behavioral Activation Intervention to Improve Adherence to MAT Among Low-Income, Minority Individuals With OUD

The goal of this study is to develop an evidence-based Peer Recovery Coach-delivered treatment model that can be sustainably delivered to improve MAT retention for low-income, minority individuals with OUD.

Role: co-I (5% effort)


NIDA Administrative Supplement (Grant #U01DA038360-05; PI: Eric Wish [UMCP]) 09/01/19-07/31/21 (NCE)

Perceptions of Naloxone in Methadone-Maintained Individuals

The goal of this study is to collect information from current and recent opioid users about their awareness of naloxone and its availability, their attitudes towards naloxone, and its influence on drug use behavior patterns.

Role: Sub-Award P.I. (30% effort)


CareFirst BlueCross/BlueShield (PI: Eric Weintraub)                                                        09/01/18-09/01/20

Expanding Access to Medication-Assisted Treatment in Rural Areas with the Use of Telemedicine

The goal of this program is to increase access for rural populations to medications for OUD with the use of telemedicine. I am the primary outcomes evaluator for this clinical service grant.

Role: co-I (20% effort)


The Foundation for the Science of the Therapeutic Experience (PI: Belcher)                     04/01/17-03/31/20

Open-label dose-extending placebos as an adjunct to methadone treatment: A pilot study

The goal of this study is to determine whether conditioned placebo effects can be harnessed to decrease methadone dose escalation in opioid use disorder-diagnosed individuals undergoing medication-based treatment.

Role: PI


MPowering the State: Strategic Partnership funds (co-PI with Eric Wish [UMCP])           07/01/17-06/30/20

Novel Therapies to Reduce Opioid Use

The goal of this study is to employ comprehensive urine toxicology screens that include information on biological content levels of a wide range of opioids to examine drug use patterns in opioid use disorder-diagnosed methadone-treated individuals.

Role: co-PI with Eric Wish, UMCP

Community Service

2002                Guest lecturer, “Empowering the Community” Conference, University of California, Irvine

2003-2008       Annual Lecturer, Brain Awareness Week, University of California, Irvine

2004                Lecturer, “The Danger of Trying Drugs Just Once”-- Presentation given to juvenile offenders at Joplin Youth Center, a non-secure residential treatment center for boys in Orange County, CA

2008, 2009       Referee, SDGE/Graduate Women in Science Fellowship

2009                Panel Representative, Community College Day, NIH, Bethesda, MD

2011                Lecturer, “Science for Non-Scientists” series, NIDA, Baltimore, MD

2012                Career Day presentation, Patterson Park Public Charter School, Baltimore, MD

2013                Scientist demonstrator, “Take Your Kid to Work Day” at NIDA-IRP

2015                Judge for the annual Greater Baltimore Society for Neuroscience Meeting

2017                Mentor to a Baltimore city middle school-aged child, Paul’s Place 

Links of Interest

Teaching service

2000-2001       Graduate Teaching Assistant, Neurobiology (BIO110L), University of California, Irvine

2001-2003       Course Instructor, Neurobiology lecture/lab course (BIO113L), University of California, Irvine

2004-2005       Research Mentor for undergraduate neurobiology major, UC Irvine Undergraduate Research Program

2008                Course Instructor, COSMOS, COSMOS-University of California, Irvine

2009                Course Instructor, Law and Neuroscience (Psychology 594LN), University of California, Santa Barbara

2010-2012       Research Mentor for the NIDA Summer Student Programs

2011-2012       Course Instructor, Introduction to Addiction Science, Neuroimaging Research Branch, NIDA-IRP

2011-2014       Research Mentor, NIDA post-baccalaureate IRTA Fellow

2016                GPLS 775 “The Interface of Pain, Addiction and Affect” Course Lecturer

2018                Lecturer, UMB Spring 2018 Mini-Course in Addiction (coursemaster: Mary Kay Lobo)

2018, 2019       Lecturer, Responsible Conduct of Research course on Collaboration