Keynote Speaker, George F. Koob, Ph.D.

Lecture: The Neurobiology of Addiction: View from the Dark Side - Friday, September 15 - Keynote and Awards Ceremony: 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. - Kosair Charities Clinical and Translational Research Building, Room 101/2

George F. Koob, Ph.D.

George 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.

 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 advanced 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 650 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 recognizing his contributions to research, mentorship, and international scientific collaboration. These include: 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. He was recently honored by the government of France 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 (link is external).] 


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)