Moroccan Post-graduate Student doing Drug Addiction Research at UKZN
Moroccan Neuropharmacologist, Dr Oualid Abboussi, is conducting drug addiction research at UKZN’s School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences (LMMS).
Abboussi of the Université Hassan 1er in Settat was awarded the UKZN Postdoctoral Fellowship to join the Discipline of Human Physiology where he will collaborate with the Dean and Head of School, Professor William Daniels, in studying the mechanisms involved when users get drawn to more toxic substances than the often "soft" drugs they usually start out using.
Of particular interest is cannabis – commonly known as marijuana – which remains illegal yet widely available on the streets of both Morocco and South Africa.
According to Abboussi, drug addiction persists as a global challenge hence it is important to conduct research on its consequences, especially on the brain.
UKZN became the institution of choice for Abboussi after he read results of research Daniels did on drug addiction.
Abboussi said in Morocco cannabis had become increasingly recognised as a ‘gateway drug’ to others such as cocaine and heroin. Most addicts reportedly started out consuming alcohol and smoking cannabis before getting hooked on stronger substances.
Abboussi’s previous work focused on Moroccan youth and their exposure to drugs as well as drug effects on brain development. His postdoctoral research will also explore the hereditary effects drug addiction has on the children of users.
While he has fond memories of the Laboratory of Integrative and Computational Neuroscience nestled within the Faculty of Sciences and Technics-Settat at his home university, Abboussi said there was a lot for him to see and look forward to in Durban.