We have to recognize (addiction) isn't evidence of a character flaw or a moral failing. It’s a chronic disease of the brain that deserves the same compassion that any other chronic illness does, like diabetes or heart disease.
—Dr. Vivek Murthy, former U.S. Surgeon General
The drug problem in the United States is large compared to that of the rest of the world and depending on your perspective, that may come as a surprise. But then, given that one in every seven Americans faces a substance use disorder at some point in their lives,* it’s more likely a scenario that’s familiar to most.
In conjunction with Brain Awareness Week, LearningLife has joined forces with the University’s Departments of Neuroscience and Psychiatry, the Medical Discovery Team on Addiction, and the Brain Conditions area of MnDRIVE (Minnesota Discovery and Research Innovation Economy Initiative) to highlight the most current neuroscientific research on addiction. These ongoing inquiries into the common features of addiction are what allow scientists and clinicians to envision and develop new therapies for this most-difficult-to-treat brain condition.
All three sessions will include presentations and ample time for Q & A, and will be the led by the following University of Minnesota neuroscience researchers and educators:
Mark Thomas, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles, is a Professor of Neuroscience, the Scientific Director for the University’s Medical Discovery Team on Addiction, and the Director of the MnDRIVE Optogenetics Laboratory. His research team is working to find a neural “switch” that can turn off relapse behavior in order to help people in recovery to stay abstinent.
Jazmin Camchong, PhD, University of Georgia, Athens, is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry who integrates brain stimulation, cognitive training, and neuroimaging techniques to investigate whether brain networks associated with addiction relapse may be altered to support abstinence.
Alik Widge, MD, PhD, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Carnegie Mellon University, is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Director of the Translational Neuroengineering Laboratory, a member of the University’s Medical Discovery Team on Addiction, and a MnDRIVE Neuromodulation Scholar. His research involves the development of brain-sensing therapeutic devices that respond in real time to regulate the circuits of mental illness, including addiction.
Anna Zilverstand, PhD, Maastricht University, Netherlands, is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and new member of the University’s Medical Discovery Team on Addiction. Her research focuses on brain imaging of neural circuits and big data analyses. The goal: to develop individualized approaches to addiction treatment.
Julia Lemos, PhD, University of Washington, Seattle, is an Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and a new member of the University’s Medical Discovery Team on Addiction. Her laboratory works to understand how chronic or traumatic stress renders the brain vulnerable to disease states such as depression, anxiety, and addiction. This research will inform new therapies for addiction.
A project of the Dana Foundation, Brain Awareness Week (March 11−17) is the global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research. In 2018, BAW partners hosted 895 events in 42 countries and 44 states.
Offered in cooperation with the Departments of Neuroscience and Psychiatry,
the Medical Discovery Team on Addiction, and MnDRIVE Brain Conditions.
* Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, 2016