Public Release: 

Addiction and the brain -- are we hard-wired to abuse drugs?

Brookhaven National Laboratory hosts expert panel at AAAS news briefing and symposium

DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory

EVENT: At the 2007 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a panel of world-renowned neuroscientists will present recent advances in brain-imaging that have revolutionized our understanding of addiction as a chronic disease. The addiction symposium is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, and will be preceded by a AAAS news briefing highlighting key speakers and findings.

WHEN/WHERE: News Briefing -- Thursday, February 15, 2007, 1-2 p.m. Pacific Time, AAAS Briefing Room, Nikko Ballroom III, 3rd floor Hotel Nikko, San Francisco, CA

Symposium -- Friday, February 16, 2007, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Pacific Time, Hilton San Francisco, Ballroom Level, Continental Ballroom 6

DETAILS: Drug abuse is one of the world's most challenging public health problems, causing great human suffering and taking a tremendous societal toll with a cost of $484 billion per year in the United States alone. Fortunately, recent scientific advances have revolutionized our understanding of addiction as a chronic disease, with dramatic implications for improving prevention and treatment. Some of the greatest advances have come from cross-disciplinary teams using sophisticated brain-imaging technologies to reveal the mechanisms underlying the reinforcing, addictive, and toxic properties of drugs. Leaders in this field will present new findings on the neurological mechanisms and consequences of addiction, as well as new treatment strategies.

SPEAKERS: The news briefing on February 15 will feature brief presentations followed by a Q&A session with:

Nora Volkow, M.D., Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse, "Dopamine's Role in Drug Craving," with new findings on the connection between addiction and obesity

Edythe D. London, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology, University of California, Los Angeles, "Methamphetamine and the Brain: A Problem of Inhibitory Control," with new findings on potential methamphetamine addiction treatments

Stephen Dewey, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Brookhaven National Laboratory, "Imaging the Causes and Consequences of Inhalant Abuse," with new findings on differences among solvents' addictive liabilities as well as potential treatments

Charles O'Brien, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Department of Psychiatry VA Medical Center/University of Pennsylvania, "Promising Approaches in the Treatment of Drug Addiction," with an emphasis on alcohol and heroin addiction

The above speakers will expand on their remarks at the February 16 symposium, which will be moderated by Fritz Henn, M.D., Ph.D., Brookhaven Lab's Associate Laboratory Director for Life Sciences. The symposium will feature additional presentations by:

Joanna Fowler, Ph.D., Director, Center for Translational Neuroimaging, Brookhaven National Laboratory, "Monoamine Oxidase in Smoking: Role in Addiction and Health," with new approaches to smoking cessation

Gene-Jack Wang, M.D., Chair, Medical Department, Brookhaven National Laboratory, "The Addiction-Obesity Connection," with new data on the ability to control cravings

Helene Benveniste, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Department of Anesthesiology, Stony Brook University, and Scientist, Brookhaven National Laboratory, "Maternal-Fetal Drug Transfer: Implications for Drug Abuse and Therapeutics," with the latest data on differences in maternal and fetal responses to drugs

At the symposium, a discussion and Q&A session on the scientific, societal, and public policy implications of this research will be led by:

Yasmin Hurd, Ph.D., Departments of Psychiatry and Pharmacology & Biological Sciences, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Barry McCaffrey, Retired U.S. Army General, Former Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy


One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE's Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by the Research Foundation of State University of New York on behalf of Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization. Visit Brookhaven Lab's electronic newsroom for links, news archives, graphics, and more:

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