UCSF Professor of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging
Director, Substance Abuse Neuroimaging DVA Medical Center Center for Imaging of Neurodegenerative Diseases (CIND)
Co-Director, San Francisco Treatment Research Center School of Medicine, UCSF
Dr. Meyerhoff is Professor in Residence at UCSF, Senior Researcher at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and Co-Director of the Treatment Research Center at the Department of Psychiatry, UCSF. Dr. Meyerhoff completed his undergraduate degree in Physics and his Dr.rer.nat. (PhD equivalent) in Chemistry at the Westphaelische-Wilhelms-Universitaet in Muenster, Germany. His two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley in the Department of Chemistry focused on two-dimensional high-resolution NMR spectroscopy. In 1987, he assumed a research position at the University of California, San Francisco to pursue the application of non-invasive magnetic resonance (MR) methods in animals and humans.
Dr. Meyerhoff’s main research is aimed at a better understanding of neurobiological changes in the human brain that relate to chronic substance abuse (alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, heroin, etc.), post-traumatic stress disorder, HIV infection, and normal aging. For more than two decades, he has applied advanced in vivo MR methods in humans to quantify functionally significant brain structures, brain metabolite levels, cerebral blood flow, directional brain tissue water diffusion, as well as brain function during rest. In his collaborative work, Dr. Meyerhoff seeks to understand how these complex brain changes under chronic substance exposure relate to clinically relevant cognition, psycho-social symptoms, and substance use behavior. Genotyping research participants in his substance abuse studies help define new neurobiological MR endophenotypes of substance dependence and – more specifically – relapse to substance abuse. Longitudinal study designs allow assessing brain injury and disease progression with substance abuse as well as brain recovery from substance abuse naturally or with the help of pharmacological or neurobehavioral interventions. Combining information from these three different approaches (neuroimaging, neurocognition, neurogenetics) has the power to identify critical brain biomarkers of substance exposure, associated biomechanisms, and treatment success. Dr. Meyerhoff trusts that his research into the brain’s amazing power to harness its own regenerative capacity (neuroplasticity) will contribute to improve both behavioral and pharmacological treatment of substance use disorders and to focus limited treatment resources on those at greatest risk of relapse to substance abuse.
Dr. Meyerhoff has a developmental project at the UCSF TCORS program. It aims at defining a new MR spectroscopy-based in vivo biomarker of cerebral oxidative stress, which has been associated recently with chronic smoking and other substance dependence.
In the general public and most research communities, the primary health consequences of smoking are perceived to be cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic pulmonary disease as well as acute pulmonary consequences of smoke exposure in the young and critically ill patients. However, comparatively little research has focused on the detrimental effects of chronic tobacco smoking on the human brain and on cognitive functioning. The FDA needs information about the newly emerging cerebral (and cognitive) consequences of tobacco use to properly assume their regulatory responsibilities.
1985 - 1987 University of California, Berkeley, Department of Chemistry, Post-Doctorate, NMR