George Koob

George Koob, Ph.D., an internationally-recognized expert on alcohol and stress, and the neurobiology of alcohol and drug addiction, began his tenure as Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) on January 27, 2014. As NIAAA Director, Dr. Koob oversees NIAAA’s $458 million budget, which funds alcohol-related research in a wide range of scientific areas including genetics, neuroscience, epidemiology, prevention, and treatment.

Even before beginning as NIAAA Director, Dr. Koob had a longstanding relationship with the Institute.  Throughout his career, he received funding from NIAAA and other NIH institutes for many significant research projects.  Importantly, he also led a 10-year, NIAAA-funded, multi-institutional consortium dedicated to identifying the molecular basis of alcoholism.

Dr. Koob received his Ph.D. in Behavioral Physiology from Johns Hopkins University in 1972. He spent most of his career at the Scripps Research Institute, where he served as the Director of the Alcohol Research Center, and as Professor and Chair of the Scripps’ Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders.  Early in his career, he served as a researcher 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 at the University of Cambridge.

Dr. Koob began his career studying the neurobiology of emotion, including how the brain processes reward and stress. His contributions advanced our understanding of the anatomical connections of emotional systems and the neurochemistry of emotional function.  This background led to investigations into why certain alcohol drinkers develop an addiction while others do not, and how the brain and body respond to alcohol consumption.

Dr. Koob’s work has significantly broadened our understanding of the neurocircuity associated with the acute reinforcing effects of alcohol and other drugs of abuse, and of the neuroadaptations of the reward circuits that lead to dependence.  In addition, he has validated key animal models for dependence associated with alcohol and drugs and identified the major role that brain stress systems play in the development of dependence.Dr. Koob is the author of more than 600 peer-reviewed scientific papers, and the co-author of The Neurobiology of Addiction, a comprehensive review of the most critical neurobiology of addiction research conducted over the past 50 years.

Dr. Koob is the recipient of many prestigious honors and awards, including the Daniel Efron Award for excellence in research from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, the Distinguished Investigator and Marlatt Mentorship Awards from the Research Society on Alcoholism, and the Mark Keller Award from NIAAA.