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National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

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Dr. George F. KoobGeorge F. Koob, Ph.D., is an internationally-recognized expert on alcohol and stress, and the neurobiology of alcohol and drug addiction. He is the Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), where he provides leadership in the national effort to reduce the public health burden associated with alcohol misuse. As NIAAA Director, Dr. Koob oversees a broad portfolio of alcohol research ranging from basic science to epidemiology, diagnostics, prevention, and treatment.
Dr. Koob earned his doctorate in Behavioral Physiology from Johns Hopkins University in 1972. Prior to taking the helm at NIAAA, he served as Professor and Chair of the Scripps’ Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders and Director of the Alcohol Research Center at the Scripps Research Institute. Early in his career, Dr. Koob conducted research in the Department of Neurophysiology at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and in the Arthur Vining Davis Center for Behavioral Neurobiology at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. He was a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Experimental Psychology and the MRC Neuropharmacology Unit at the University of Cambridge.
Director's Blog
Dr. Koob began his career investigating the neurobiology of emotion, particularly how the brain processes reward and stress. He subsequently applied basic research on emotions, including on the anatomical and neurochemical underpinnings of emotional function, to alcohol and drug addiction, significantly broadening knowledge of the adaptations within reward and stress neurocircuits that lead to addiction. This work has Director's Statement on Inclusivity at Conferencesadvanced our understanding of the physiological effects of alcohol and other substance use and why some people transition from use to misuse to addiction, while others do not. Dr. Koob has authored more than 750 peer-reviewed scientific papers and is a co-author of The Neurobiology of Addiction, a comprehensive textbook reviewing the most critical neurobiology of addiction research conducted over the past 50 years.
Dr. Koob is the recipient of many prestigious honors and awards for his research, mentorship, and international scientific collaboration. In 2018 Dr. Koob received the E.M. Jellinek Memorial Award for his outstanding contributions to understanding the behavioral course of addiction. In 2017 Dr. Koob was elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM).  In 2016 the government of France awarded Dr. Koob with the insignia of Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honor) for developing scientific collaborations between France and the United States.   [View the video: World-class scientist Dr Koob receives the Legion of Honor.] 
In addition, Dr. Koob previously received the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) Seixas Award for extraordinary service in advancing alcohol research; the RSA Distinguished Investigator Award; the RSA Marlatt Mentorship Award; the Daniel Efron Award for excellence in basic research and the Axelrod Mentorship Award, both from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology; the NIAAA Mark Keller Award for his lifetime contributions to our understanding of the neurobiology of alcohol use disorder; and an international prize in the field of neuronal plasticity awarded by La Fondation Ipsen.


Ph.D., Behavioral Physiology, Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, 1972
B.S., Zoology, Pennsylvania State University, 1969
Professional Experience
2006-2014 Professor and Chair, Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders, The Scripps Research Institute.
1995-2014 Director, Alcohol Research Center, The Scripps Research Institute.
1990-2006 Professor, Molecular and Integrative Neurosciences Department (formerly the Department of Neuropharmacology), The Scripps Research Institute.
1983-1989 Associate Member (with tenure), Division of Preclinical Neuroscience and Endocrinology, The Scripps Research Institute.
1977-1983 Staff Scientist, Arthur Vining Davis Center for Behavioral Neurobiology, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
1975-1977 Postdoctoral Fellow with Dr. Susan D. Iversen and Dr. Leslie Iversen, University of Cambridge, Department of Experimental Psychology, Medical Research Council, Neurochemical Pharmacology Unit. Studies in: catecholamines and behavior.
1972-1975 Staff Scientist, Department of Neurophysiology, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. Studies in: brain lesions, brain stimulation, behavior, neurochemistry, psychopharmacology.
1969-1972 Predoctoral Fellow, Johns Hopkins University, Department of Environmental Medicine. Training in: physiology, behavior, neurochemistry, environmental physiology.
1965-1969 Undergraduate, Pennsylvania State University, Training in: zoology and psychology.
Awards & Professional Activities
• Phi Sigma Society     
• Alpha Zeta Fraternity    
• Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award, Revelle College, University of California, San Diego (1988)   
• Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award, Muir College, University of California, San Diego (1989)   
• Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award, Warren College, University of California, San Diego (1992, 1993, 1995)   
• Daniel H. Efron Award, Excellence in Research in Neuropsychopharmacology, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (1991)   
• Highly Cited Researcher, Institute for Scientific Information (2001)    
• Distinguished Investigator Award, Research Society on Alcoholism (2002)    
• ASAM Annual Award, American Society of Addiction Medicine (2002)   
• Tharp Award, James H. Tharp Trust Committee, Research Society on Alcoholism (2002)  
• Most Valuable Professor, Muir College, University of California, San Diego (2004)  
• Mark Keller Award, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (2004)  
• Faculty Excellence Award, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of California, San Diego (2006)  
• Honorary Doctorate of Science, Pennsylvania State University (2009)  
• Outstanding UCSD Professor Award, Panhellenic Council, University of California, San Diego (2010)  
• Marlatt Mentorship Award, Research Society on Alcoholism (2012)  
• Honorary Doctorate, Université Bordeaux Segalen, France (2013)  
• Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honor), from the government of France (2016)  
• Seixas Award for Service, Research Society on Alcoholism (2016)   
• Elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), USA (2017)
• E.M. Jellinek Memorial Award (2018)
Selected References

Koob GF, Bloom FE (1988) Cellular and molecular mechanisms of drug dependence. Science 242:715-723

Schulteis G, Markou A, Cole M, Koob GF (1995) Decreased brain reward produced by ethanol withdrawal. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 92:5880-5884.

Ahmed SH, Koob GF (1998) Transition from moderate to excessive drug intake: change in hedonic set point. Science 282:298-300.

Koob, GF and Le Moal, M. Drug abuse: hedonic homeostatic dysregulation, Science, 278 (1997) 52-58. 

Koob, GF and Le Moal, M. Drug addiction, dysregulation of reward, and allostasis, Neuropsychopharmacology, 24 (2001) 97-129.

Koob, GF. Alcoholism: allostasis and beyond. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 27 (2003) 232–243.

Ahmed SH, Kenny PJ, Koob GF, Markou A (2002) Neurobiological evidence for hedonic allostasis associated with escalating cocaine use. Nat Neurosci 5:625-626.

Funk CK, O'Dell LE, Crawford EF, Koob GF (2006) Corticotropin-releasing factor within the central nucleus of the amygdala mediates enhanced ethanol self-administration in withdrawn, ethanol-dependent rats. J Neurosci 26:11324-11332.

Koob GF, Lloyd GK, Mason BJ. Development of pharmacotherapies for drug addiction: a Rosetta Stone approach. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, 2009, 8:500-515.

Vendruscolo LF, et al. Corticosteroid-dependent plasticity mediates compulsive alcohol drinking in rats. Journal of Neuroscience, 2012, 32(22):7563–7571.

George O, Sanders C, Freiling J, Grigoryan E, Vu S, Allen CD, Crawford E, Mandyam CD, Koob GF. (2012) Recruitment of medial prefrontal cortex neurons during alcohol withdrawal predicts cognitive impairment and excessive alcohol drinking. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 109:18156-18161.

Koob GF, Volkow ND (2010) Neurocircuitry of addiction. Neuropsychopharm Rev 35:217-238.

Schlosburg JE, Whitfield TW Jr, Park PE, Crawford EF, George O, Vendruscolo LF, Koob G F (2013) Long-term antagonism of k-opioid receptors prevents escalation of and increased motivation for heroin intake. J Neurosci 33:19384-19392.

Vendruscolo LF, Estey D, Goodell V, Macshane LG, Logrip ML, Schlosburg JE, McGinn MA, Zamora-Martinez ER, Belanoff JK, Hunt HJ, Sanna PP, George O, Koob GF, Edwards S, Mason BJ. (2015) Glucocorticoid receptor antagonism decreases alcohol seeking in alcohol-dependent individuals. Journal of Clinical Investigation 125:3193-3197.

Koob GF, Volkow ND. Neurobiology of addiction: a neurocircuitry analysis. Lancet Psychiatry, 2016, 3:760-773. PMID: 27475769. PMC: PMC6135092. DOI: 10.1016/S2215-0366(16)00104-8.

Cui C, Koob GF. Titrating tipsy targets: the neurobiology of low-dose alcohol. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, 2017, 38:556-568. PMID: 28372826. PMC: PMC5597438. DOI: 10.1016/

Kwako LE, Momenan R, Grodin EN, Litten RZ, Koob GF, Goldman D. Addictions neuroclinical assessment: a reverse translational approach. Neuropharmacology, 2017, 122:254-264. PMID: 28283392. PMC: PMC5569299. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2017.03.006.

de Guglielmo G, Kallupi M, Pomrenze M, Crawford E, Simpson S, Schweitzer P, Koob GF, Messing RO, George O. Inactivation of a CRF-dependent amygdalofugal pathway reverses addiction-like behaviors in alcohol-dependent rats. Nature Communications, 2019, 10:1238. PMID: 30886240. PMC: PMC6423296. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-09183-0.

Koob GF, Powell P, White A. Addiction as a coping response: hyperkatifeia, deaths of despair, and COVID-19. American Journal of Psychiatry, 2020, 177:1031-1037. PMID: 33135468. PMC: none. DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2020.20091375.

Koob GF. Drug addiction: hyperkatifeia/negative reinforcement as a framework for medications development. Pharmacological Reviews, 2021, 73:163-201. PMID: 33318153. PMC: PMC7770492. DOI: 10.1124/pharmrev.120.000083.

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