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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 from Medication-Based Treatment (MBT, primarily, methadone) for opioid use disorder (OUD). I am also interested in the psychosocial risk factors (anxiety, depression and catastrophizing) that determine retention and adherence to MBT. 

Other areas of research interest include:

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

-Comprehensive urine drug screening in OUD-diagnosed individuals (collaboration with Eric Wish, PhD)

-Clinical outcomes of telemedicine-based delivery of MBT (collaboration with Eric Weintraub, MD and Melanie Bennett, 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)

-Work-force re-entry for individuals with OUD (collaboration with Marianne Cloeren, MD)

Research/Clinical Keywords

Opioid Use Disorder, Learning and Memory, Substance Use Disorders, Methadone Maintenance Treatment, Individual Differences, Susceptibility and Resilience to SUD, Medication-Assisted Treatment, Telemedicine for OUD

Highlighted Publications

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

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, 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.

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.

Additional Publication Citations

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

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

2019-2020                    (Belcher, co-I: 30%)

Title: “Methadone-Maintained Individuals’ Perceptions of Naloxone”

NIH/NIDA Administrative Supplement Sub-Award to 3U01DA038360-05S4 (E. Wish, PI)

Total costs: $ 74,354


2017-2020                    (Belcher, PI: 0%)

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

The Foundation for the Science of the Therapeutic Experience (F-STE)

Total costs: $ 26,362.32


2017-2020                   (Belcher, Co-I: 0%)

Title: “Novel Therapies to Reduce Opioid Use”

Project Directors:Annabelle Belcher, Eric Wish, Luana Colloca

MPowering the State: Strategic Partnership funds

Total costs: $86,580

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 

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