Contact Information

Research Assistant Professor
Psychology Department 
Center on Alcoholism,
Substance Abuse, and Addictions
University of New Mexico


Office 505-925-2348
Fax 505-272-8002

Membership Information

Membership Category:
Research Scientists

Member Since: 2010


Pilar Sanjuan, Ph.D.



Ph.D. Rutgers University
B.A. Hunter College

Research Statement

I obtained my Ph.D. in October of 2006 from Rutgers University, where I conducted research at the Center of Alcohol Studies. As a graduate student I received training from 1996 to 2000 as a NIAAA trainee at the Center of Alcohol Studies, with Barbara McCrady, Ph.D. During this time I worked with James Langenbucher, Ph.D. as my research mentor and completed several studies that were presented at national conferences, co-authored several published articles, and was the first author for a chapter on substance use disorders (SUDs) in age-specific populations in an edited book on addiction. My research at the Center of Alcohol Studies included secondary analysis of a NIDA dataset gathered as part of the development of the POSIT instrument, a screening tool for addiction in adolescents. In this study I examined sex differences in adolescent patterns of substance use. My results were presented at the annual meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism. My thesis research at Rutgers was a secondary analysis of data collected by my mentor as part of the NIDA funded Research Diagnostic Project (RDP). I investigated patterns of comorbidity, with a focus on sexual dysfunction, among women in treatment for addiction who reported a prior history of sexual trauma. Separate results from this study were presented at two conferences: the annual meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism and the annual meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence, and were published last year. I have also been involved in the design and conduction of several other research projects with the RDP team, including the engineering of alternative nosologies for substance use disorders, the utility of applying test construction methods to determine psychiatric nosologies, co-morbidity of pathological gambling, and an internet study on patterns of and motivations for the use of licit and illicit performance enhancing drugs (e.g. anabolic steroids, ephedra). My dissertation was an internet-based study of bodybuilders and weightlifters examining the effects of performance enhancing drugs on current mood. I am now working towards the next step in my research career, collecting pilot data and developing research studies, which are leading to grant proposals submitted to NIH. In February of this year I submitted a K23 proposal to NIAAA to develop my skills conducting neuroimaging research examining neural mechanisms of behavior change for the treatment of alcohol use disorders comorbid with PTSD. The research portion of this project would be conducted with women on probation and parole in Albuquerque, NM. I have also been involved as a Co-I in the authoring of several other proposals to NIH, including most recently an R01 to NIAAA to examine the role of neurological changes in outcome of treatment for alcoholism using magnetoencephalography. My primary area of interest is addiction and trauma, focusing in particular on veterans, women, and Hispanics. There is a well documented high level of comorbidity between substance use disorders and PTSD. Further research is necessary to clarify the interplay between substance use disorders and PTSD in order to identify unique treatment needs and inform prevention efforts. For example, a consistent biological vulnerability could be used for screening by emergency rooms or the military to identify individuals at higher risk for PTSD who might be better served by early interventions. Remarkably little research has examined the relationships between genetic variability and cultural environmental factors, such as social support, in the development of addiction or of PTSD, and this is an area I am eager to explore. Most individuals who have experienced trauma develop neither PTSD nor substance use disorders (SUD), suggesting that there is some level of pre-existing vulnerability to the development of PTSD or SUD that differs among individuals. It may be that some individuals have a more general predis

About Me

I am a Research Scientist at The Mind Research Network (MRN), a Research Assistant Professor at the UNM Department of Psychology, and a licensed clinical psychologist in NM. I have recently completed work as the principal investigator on a small internally-funded pilot study, and am now working under an NIAAA diversity supplement with Kent Hutchison, Ph.D. examining the roles of genetics, sex differences, ethnicity, and trauma history as predictors of emotional regulation, alcohol expectancies, and physiological and subjective response to alcohol infusion, conducting my own pilot study with data from the parent grant. Prior to this, I worked as a clinical psychology resident and postdoctoral program manager with Kent Kiehl, Ph.D. at MRN as part of a NIDA funded study on neurocognitive changes associated with treatment for cocaine dependence. Before coming to MRN, I worked for two years part time as a practicum student while I completed my dissertation and then as a clinical psychology resident with Forensic Health Services, a private company providing mental health services to the women’s correctional facility in New Mexico. I did my graduate training at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ and moved to New Mexico in August of 2003 in order to complete my pre-doctoral internship at the Southwest Consortium Predoctoral Psychology Internship program, which involved rotations at the VA hospital, UNM Hospital, Women’s Correctional Facility, and Indian Health Services. I have been involved in clinical psychology research on substance use disorders since 1994, as an undergraduate in the NIMH COR program at Hunter College, CUNY. While there, I conducted a secondary analysis of a dataset owned by Sharon Hall, Ph.D. at the San Francisco Veterans Healthcare Administration looking at sex differences for depression, anxiety, and social support among opioid dependent individuals in treatment. This study’s results were presented as both a poster and an oral presentation at national student conferences. The year prior to this I also presented at the national NIMH COR conference on data I collected and analyzed as part of a social psychology study on self identity.

View Curriculum Vitae

Recent Publications

Langenbucher, J., Labouvie, E., Sanjuan, P., Kirisci, L., Bavly, L., Martin, C., & Chung, T. (2004). An application of Item Response Theory analysis to alcohol, cannabis, and cocaine criteria in DSM-IV. Journal Of Abnormal Psychology, 113(1), 72-80.

Hildebrandt, T., Langenbucher, J., Carr, S., Sanjuan, P. M., & Park, S. (2006). Predicting Intentions for Long-Term Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid Use Among Males: A Covariance Structure Model. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 20(3), 234-240.

Hildebrandt, T., Langenbucher, J., Carr, S., Sanjuan, P. (2007). Modeling population heterogeneity in appearance- and performance-enhancing drug (APED) use: Applications of mixture modeling in 400 regular APED users. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 116(4), 717-733.

Sanjuan, P. M., Langenbucher, J. W., & Labouvie, E. (2009). The role of sexual assault and sexual dysfunction in alcohol and other drug use disorders. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 27(2), 150-163.