Public Release: 

Penn addictions expert, Charles P. O'Brien, MD, PhD, receives prestigious, international honor

Delivering 'The Anatomy Lesson' dates back to the 16th Century

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

(Philadelphia, PA) - Charles P. O'Brien, MD, PhD, Vice Chair, Department of Psychiatry and Director, Center for the Study of Addictions at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Director of Psychiatric Research at the Philadelphia Veteran's Administration Medical Center (VAMC), has been invited by the Academisch Medisch Centrum (Academic Medical Center) and the University of Amsterdam in Holland to present The Anatomy Lesson - a tradition dating back to the 16th century.

The modern Anatomy Lesson is a weeklong event consisting of a presentation by an internationally prominent scientist of a subject on the cutting edge of science to the people of Amsterdam. This year's topic is addiction. The tradition started in 1563 as a way to educate the Amsterdam community about science - specifically, anatomy - with the hopes of reaching those not formally enrolled in school. It was revived in the 20th century and formalized through the Medical Center. This event is a community affair marked by weeklong series of events leading up to The Anatomy Lesson.

This year's lecture, to be held on November 18th, will address the potential benefits of recent neurobiological findings in addiction research for the treatment of alcoholism and other forms of drug dependency. Dr. O'Brien will be presenting the work of his team at the Philadelphia VAMC and Penn's Department of Psychiatry dealing with brain mechanisms of addiction and the development of new treatments for these disorders.

"I am humbled by the people of Amsterdam for choosing me to continue the tradition this year. This is a society that values learning and believes everyone should have an equal chance in bettering themselves," says Dr. O'Brien. "Addiction is a modern problem facing the whole world. It's wonderful to have an opportunity like this to actively share what you know with people who want to learn it. We all have the capacity to become addicted and we are all affected by it in one way or another." Dr. O'Brien's presentation will be given at the prestigious Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and will be attended by an audience of approximately 2000 doctors, biomedical researchers, health professionals, members of the Government and Parliament, civil servants, journalists, students and interested members of the community.

This presentation will be heard beyond the lecture hall as the lecture receives national attention from the Dutch paper, The Volkskrant. As is the tradition, the occasion will also include a concert by the Symphony Orchestra of Amsterdam and a presentation by city officials of the new pieces of art purchased by the city this year.


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