James C. Garbutt, M.D.




E-mail: jc_garbutt@med.unc.edu

Phone: (919) 966-4652

Phone (Faculty Practice): (919) 445-0770


B.A., Biology with Honors, University of Illinois, Urbana
M.D., University of Illinois Medical Center, Chicago
Residency, Psychiatry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Medicine
Fellowship, Clinical Associate, National Institute of Mental Health


Research Interests:

Dr. Garbutt has two principal research interests: 1) the development of medications for the treatment of alcoholism; 2) exploring the hedonic response to sweets as a phenotype of interest to risk for alcohol problems and prediction of treatment response. He has been engaged in clinical trials of long-acting naltrexone, oral naltrexone, acamprosate, baclofen, aripiprazole, and several experimental compounds. Currently, his interests are focused on the efficacy of high-dose baclofen, the possibility of using a bupropion/naltrexone combination to treat binge drinking and the relationship of the sweet-liking phenotype to naltrexone response. 

Drs. Garbutt and Alexei Kampov have been studying the sweet-liking (SL) phenotype as a risk factor for alcohol use disorders for 15 years. The SL phenotype is identified by generating curves of hedonic response to varying concentrations of sucrose. There is good evidence from animals that the hedonic response to sweets is mediated through the μ-opioid receptor in the nucleus accumbens. Therefore, variations in the phenotype may provide information on variation in hedonic processing mediated by opioid systems. They have found that: 1) the SL phenotype is more common in alcoholism particularly patients with a family history of alcoholism; 2) the SL phenotype is more common in the non-alcoholic offspring of alcoholic fathers; 3) the presence of the SL phenotype enhances the predictive power of other phenotypes such as high Novelty Seeking and Subjective Response to Ethanol with regards to the presence of alcohol-related problems.

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