Andrew Holmes, Ph.D., chief of the Laboratory of Behavioral and Genomic Neuroscience at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, has been selected as the 2012 recipient of the Jacob P. Waletzky Award from the Society for Neuroscience. The $25,000 prize is given in recognition of innovative research into substance abuse and the brain and nervous system.

Dr. Holmes was presented the honor today at the society’s annual meeting in New Orleans. His work investigates how exposure to stress and the abuse of drugs and alcohol affect cognitive functioning and emotional regulation.

In a recent example of his research published in the September 2012 issue of Nature Neuroscience, Dr. Holmes and his colleagues reported that chronic alcohol use may increase the risk for post-traumatic stress disorder by altering the brain’s ability to recover from a traumatic experience. (Learn more about the finding.)

Ultimately, his research may have implications for developing new treatments for a range of disorders including alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Dr. Holmes’ recent work has given important insight into how heavy drinking affects the brain’s ability to recover from trauma,” said Kenneth R. Warren, Ph.D., acting director of NIAAA. “We are pleased that his significant contributions to the addictions field are being recognized by the Society for Neuroscience.”

“I’m honored to be receiving this award and appreciate the support of my staff and colleagues that help make my work possible,” said Dr. Holmes.

Also recognized at the meeting was Rui M. Costa, D.V.M., Ph.D., a guest researcher in the NIAAA Laboratory for Integrative Neuroscience, where he formerly worked; he also is an investigator at the Champalimaud Center for the Unknown in Lisbon, Portugal. Dr. Costa received the Young Investigator Award given to notable neuroscientists who have received their advanced degree in the past 10 years.

Dr. Costa’s research explores how people acquire new skills. He has identified changes within the brain that accompany different phases of skill learning and has noted particular brain circuits that are involved in learning and consolidating a novel skill.