Sharon L Walsh, Ph.D.

Bio / Education: 

Rutgers University, 1990

Joint Appointment, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy
Joint Appointment, Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine
Joint Appointment, Department of Pharmacology, College of Medicine

2016 Accomplishments 

Dr. Walsh served in numerous professional capacities this past year at the local, state, national and international levels while continuing to support a productive research and training program.  With regard to University service, Dr. Walsh continues in her role as Director of the Center on Drug and Alcohol Research (CDAR).  She also served on six University and/or College Committees: the COM Multidisciplinary Value Paradigm (MVP) initiative Steering Committee, the COM REACH Mentoring Committee, the Scientific Review Committee for the Center for Clinical and Translational Science, UK Substance Abuse Task Force (Chair), UK Healthcare Substance Abuse Task Force and Behavioral Health Initiative, and the University Senate Hearing Panel (Privilege and Tenure).  At the national level, Dr. Walsh is appointed as a Special Government Employee of the Food and Drug Administration and serves in an advisory capacity for new drug approvals of analgesic formulations and risk management approaches for marketed drugs with abuse liability.  She also testified this year in support of approval for a novel 6-month buprenorphine implant product for the treatment of opioid use disorder.  She served as a grant reviewer and an advisor for the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the Centers for Disease Control, an editorial board member for two journals, an invited reviewer for manuscripts from more than a dozen national and international journals.  She continued her service to the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the National Board of Medical Examiners as a test item writer for the physician Board exam in Addiction Medicine.  On the international level, Dr. Walsh served as the Chair of the Improving Outcomes in the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (IOTOD) annual meeting held in Bristol, England, which provided training for nearly 300 European physicians in good practices, where she also presented two invited address. Dr. Walsh gave several local presentations, including guest lectures and seminar presentations, including an invited address at a CME co-sponsored by UK and the Kentucky State Office of Drug Control Policy. Dr. Walsh continues to be well funded through extramural support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and has current funding through R01-supported projects as a principal investigator and co-investigator along with current funding from two pharmaceutical sponsors.  She and co-investigators, Drs. Laura Fanucchi and Michelle Lofwall, received an internal MVP award during the first funding round to evaluate evidence-based practices for opioid use disorder in hospitalized patients with endocarditis as a result of injection drug use.  She published 10 peer-reviewed manuscripts in respected journals (with one additional in press), including two review papers, and has several others under review.  With respect to education, Dr. Walsh continued to train students at the high school, pre and post-doctoral levels in the laboratory, mentor faculty in the College of Medicine and Pharmacy, gave guest lectures in the COM and COP, and participated in various CME activities for physicians and other health professionals.

Research Description: 

Dr. Walsh is a Professor of Behavioral Science, Psychiatry, and Director of the Center on Drug and Alcohol Research. Prior to coming to the University of Kentucky in 2005, Dr. Walsh earned her M.S. (1987) and Ph.D. (1990) from Rutgers University in Behavioral Neuroscience.   Dr. Walsh joined the Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1990 as a postdoctoral fellow where she trained in human behavioral pharmacology. She joined the faculty in 1992 and in 2003 became Professor of Behavioral Science and Psychiatry. Dr. Walsh's clinical research has focused on pharmacological issues in opioid and cocaine dependence. She has conducted studies on pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic characteristics of opioid treatment agents, including buprenorphine, methadone and LAAM and has evaluated potential pharmacotherapies for efficacy and safety in the treatment of cocaine dependence. Dr. Walsh was the 1997 recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, has authored numerous papers, has served as a regular NIDA study section member and serves on the board of an array of professional associations in the field of substance abuse.


Licit & Illicit Opioids: Comparative Studies in Humans (7/31/04 to 7/1/09) National Institute on Drug Abuse R01 DA016718.  Total Direct Costs:  $1,968,300; First Year Direct Costs:  $357,720.
This is a series of laboratory clinical pharmacology studies assessing the abuse liability profiles of prescription opioid medications, including comparisons to the profiles of known reference drugs of abuse.
Evaluation of Novel Treatments for Stimulant Dependence (9/1/06 – 8/31/09) National Institute on Drug Abuse R01 DA019433-A1.  Total Direct Costs: $1,427,427; First Year Direct Costs:  $468,787.
The primary aim of this project is to evaluate the ability of aripiprazole to alter intravenous cocaine self-administration and to alter cigarette smoking in human volunteers with smoking and cocaine use histories.

Evaluation of Atomoxetine for Cocaine Dependence:  A Pilot Trial (9/30/2006-10/1/2009)
National Institute on Drug Abuse R01 DA 22191-01.  Total Direct Costs: $750,000; First Year Direct Costs: $250,000.
The major goal of this study is to determine whether there are adequate safety and efficacy data for atomoxetine as a treatment for cocaine dependence in a small, double-blind, randomized clinical trial to warrant a larger-scale evaluation.

CSP# 1024, A Phase III, Randomized, Multi-Center, Double Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of Lofexidine for Relief of Symptoms in Subjects Undergoing Inpatient Opiate Detoxification (7/01/2006—12/31/2007) WorldMeds, LLC.
The primary goal of this Phase-III project is to evaluate the efficacy of an alpha-2 adrenergic receptor agonist for the treatment of opioid dependence in an inpatient setting.

Selected Publications: 

Nann-Vernotica E., Donny E.C., Bigelow G.E. and Walsh S.L. (2001) The D1/5 antagonist, ecopipam, fails to attenuate the subjective and physiological effects of cocaine.  Psychopharmacology, 155: 338-347.

Walsh S.L., Strain E.C., Abreu M.E. and Bigelow G.E. (2001) Enadoline, a selective kappa opioid agonist:  Comparison with butorphanol and hydromorphone in humans. Psychopharmacology, 157: 151-162.

Walsh S.L., Geter-Douglas B., Strain E.C. and Bigelow G.E. (2001) Enadoline and butorphanol: Evaluation of k agonists on cocaine pharmacodynamics and cocaine self-administration in humans.  Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 299: 147-158.

Strain E.C., Walsh S.L. and Bigelow G.E. (2002) Blockade of hydromorphone effects by buprenorphine/naloxone and buprenorphine.  Psychopharmacology, 159:161-166.

Donny E.C., Walsh S.L., Bigelow G.E., Eisenberg T. and Stitzer M.L. (2002) High dose methadone produces superior opioid blockade and comparable withdrawal suppression to lower doses in opioid-dependent humans.  Psychopharmacology, 161: 202-212.

Lin, Shen-Nan, Walsh S.L., Moody D.E. and Foltz R.L. (2003) Detection and time course of cocaine N-oxide and other cocaine metabolites in human plasma by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS).  Analytical Chemistry, 75:  4335-4340.

Walsh S.L., Strain E.C. and Bigelow G.E. (2003) Evaluation of the effects of lofexidine and clonidine on naloxone-precipitated withdrawal in opioid-dependent humans.  Addiction, 98: 427-439.

Walsh S.L. and Eissenberg T. (2003) Buprenorphine: Extrapolating from clinical pharmacology to clinical practice. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 70 (2 Suppl): S13-27.

Donny E.C., Brasser S.M., Bigelow, G.E. Stitzer M.L. and Walsh, S.L. (2005) Methadone doses of 100 mg or greater are more effective than lower doses at suppressing heroin self-administration in opioid-dependent volunteers.  Addiction, 100: 1496-1509.

Donny E.C., Bigelow G.E. and Walsh S.L. (2006) Comparing the physiological and subjective effects of self-administered versus yoked cocaine in humans, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 186: 544-552.

Jufer R. Walsh, S.L., Cone E.J. and Sampson-Cone A. (2006) Effect of repeated cocaine administration on detection times in oral fluid and urine. Journal of Analytical Toxicology, 30(7):  458-462.

Walsh S.L. and Strain E.C. (2006) Pharmacology of methadone.  In:  Treatment of Opioid Dependence , The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland, Strain E.C. and Stitzer M.L. (eds), pp. 59-76.

Preston K.L., Epstein, D.H., Schmitter J.P. and Walsh S.L. (2006) Abuse of Marketed Medications.  In: Drug Abuse Handbook 2nd Edition. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, Karch S.B. (ed).