Andrea G. Hohmann, PhD is a Linda and Jack Gill Chair of Neuroscience and a Lilly Presidential Life Sciences Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University. Dr. Hohmann joined the faculty at Indiana University in 2010 after serving as Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Georgia. Dr. Hohmann completed her graduate work in the laboratory of J. Michael Walker (Brown University) and her postdoctoral work in neuroanatomy in the laboratory of Miles Herkenham (NIMH). Dr. Hohmann’s research has focused primarily on harnessing the therapeutic potential of the cannabinoid signaling system to suppress pathological pain. The discovery of cannabinoid receptors and identification of brain constituents that act at these receptors established the existence of an endogenous cannabis-like (endocannabinoid) transmitter system. The endocannabinoid system consists of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), endogenous ligands for these receptors and the enzymes catalyzing endocannabinoid synthesis and degradation. Dr. Hohmann’s research has demonstrated that the antinociceptive effects of cannabinoids are indicative of a novel, nonopiate system that modulates pain.
Dr. Hohmann’s work provided the first demonstration that cannabinoids suppress activity in nociceptive neurons and subsequently identified an enzyme, monoacylglycerol lipase, implicated in endocannabinoid deactivation as a previously unrecognized therapeutic target for treating pain and stress-related disorders. Dr. Hohmann’s research program combines behavioral, drug self-administration, neurophysiological, neuroanatomical and molecular approaches to study cannabinoid mechanisms of pain suppression. Her laboratory demonstrated that activation of cannabinoid CB2 receptors suppresses the processing of pathological pain, including pain produced by toxic challenges with chemotherapeutic agents. Dr. Hohmann’s research strives to maximize the therapeutic potential of endocannabinoid signaling systems while minimizing unwanted central nervous system side-effects (e.g. psychoactivity and addiction). Such strategies (i.e. inhibitors of endocannabinoid deactivation, cannabinoid CB2 agonists, peripheral cananabinoid analgesics) may show a more beneficial and circumscribed spectrum of biological effects compared to direct activation of central cannabinoid CB1 receptors. Dr. Hohmann received the Young Investigator Award from the International Cannabinoid Research Society (2007) and the Ester Fride IACM Award for Major Contributions to Cannabinoid Basic Research (2011). Her research is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.