Kentucky Professor to Research Tramadol

A University of Kentucky professor received a $1.17 million research grant from federal stimulus money to research why a particular opioid drug is abused less often than others of the same type. William Stoops, an assistant professor in the Department of Behavioral Science and the University of Kentucky Center for Drug and Alcohol Research, will focus his research on the pharmacological effects of tramadol, a synthetic opioid.

Stoops said that by blocking certain receptors in the brain, he hopes to better understand why tramadol appears to have less potential for abuse than other analgesics derived from opium alkaloids such as morphine, narcotine, and codeine.

According to an article in the Kentucky Kernel, Stoops called prescription opioid abuse a “growing problem in Kentucky.” Stoops originally applied for the grant through the National Institute on Drug Abuse as a four-year project, but the organization determined it could be completed in two years. The first research projects will begin in early September.

After modifying the grant to two years, the National Institutes of Health decided to spend some of the funds from their stimulus package. Stoops said he plans to be mindful of the overall goal of the stimulus funds given to the National Institutes of Health when conducting his research.

“(The overall goal) basically is to answer pressing questions about public health and to keep or put people in good jobs,” Stoops said.