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George F. Koob, Ph.D.

Dr. George F. Koob is a professor and chair of the Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders at The Scripps Research Institute. Dr. Koob won the RSA Marlatt Mentorship Award at the Research Society on Alcoholism’s annual meeting in June 2012 in San Francisco, California.




Writer Sherry Wasilow interviewed Dr. Koob from his office at the California Campus of The Scripps Research Institute.

SW: Please describe your research focus?

GFK: My research has involved seminal discoveries in multiple areas directly related to research on alcohol use disorders. These include studies of the neurobiology of emotion, with a focus on the theoretical constructs of reward and stress ( I have made contributions to our understanding of the anatomical connections of the emotional systems and the neurochemistry of emotional function.

I have contributed significantly to understanding of the neurocircuitry associated with the acute reinforcing effects of alcohol and drugs of abuse, and more recently on the neuroadaptations of these reward circuits associated with the transition to dependence (

I have validated key animal models for dependence associated with alcohol and drugs of abuse and identified a key role of the brain stress systems in the development of dependence (

My current studies are focused on identifying molecular mechanisms within the neurocircuits associated with the transition to dependence that convey the vulnerability for alcoholism and addiction.

SW: How did you begin your work in the field of alcohol studies?

GFK: I was invited by Floyd Bloom, Director of the Arthur Vining Davis Center for Behavioral Neurobiology at The Salk Institute, to write a component of an Alcohol Center grant, which was subsequently funded. This grant has continuously been funded since 1977 and I have been the principal investigator and director of the Center since 1994.

SW: What would you like to see happen in the addiction-research field?

GFK: Translation of basic research findings to help prevent and treat the devastating disease of alcohol use disorders.

SW: What advice do you have for people now entering addiction research?

GFK: The neurobiological advances have led us to a particularly exciting time and a career in alcohol research is a richly rewarding endeavor.

SW: What does your recent award – the 2012 RSA Marlatt Mentorship Award – mean to you on a personal level?

GFK: I am humbled by the award and grateful to all my past wonderful post-doctoral fellows and students. It also makes me appreciate all my wonderful mentors such as Zoltan Annau, Joseph Brady, Solomon Synder, Susan Iversen, Leslie Iversen, and Floyd Bloom.

SW: Any last words for the ATTC audience?

GFK: Substance use disorders – addiction and alcoholism – are treatable diseases and their treatment will save enormously on human suffering and health care costs.

Additional website links:

Pearson Center for Alcoholism & Addiction Research

Dr. Koob's Bio

Dr. Koob's Research Description

Integrative Neuroscience Initiative on Alcoholism (INIA) - Scripps

The Scripps Research Institute Alcohol Research Center

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