Assistant Professor  |  Independent Scientist

Patricia Di Ciano

BA (Hons), MA, PhD

Research Interests
cannabis, substances of abuse
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Dr. Patricia Di Ciano is an Independent Scientist with the Institute for Mental Health and Policy Research. She is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Toronto and an Associate member of the School of Graduate Studies


She received her PhD from the University of British Columbia in Psychology. After completing her degree, she moved to the UK to pursue a Post-doctoral position at the University of Cambridge as a NSERC Post-Doctoral Fellow. She then worked as a Research Associate and Senior Research Associate before taking up a position as Lecturer at Swansea University.


In the UK, Dr. Di Ciano’s research examined the role of dopamine and glutamate in substance use disorders. Specifically, she studied behaviours controlled by conditioned stimuli and the anatomical substrates of cue-controlled behavior. She also worked with Industry to test novel compounds in animal models for the treatment of substance use disorders.


Research Synopsis

Dr. Di Ciano has a multi-disciplinary background and her general research area is clinical trials into the safety of cannabis and other substances of abuse. She has experience with PET imaging and has also studied the addictive properties of a number of substances including cocaine, heroin, nicotine and amphetamine. Her current research is supported by the Ministry of Transportation and the University of Toronto and is aimed at understanding the impact of cannabis on driving. Dr. Di Ciano is also investigating the relative safety of different routes of cannabis administration, using cognitive, pulmonary, toxicological and pharmacokinetic outcomes.