George F. Koob, PhD
George F. Koob, PhD

A greater understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying addiction could help communities such as Louisville and Southern Indiana cope with the opioid crisis, alcoholism and other problems related to substance use. George F. Koob, PhD, an internationally-recognized expert on alcohol and stress and the neurobiology of alcohol and drug addiction, will discuss his research on this topic in the keynote address for Research!Louisville.

Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one of the National Institutes of Health, will discuss “The Neurobiology of Addiction: View from the Dark Side,” on Sept. 15 at 1 p.m. in the Kosair Charities Clinical and Translational Research Building (KCCTRB) at UofL.

Koob’s talk will address how addiction is perpetuated by the motivation to alleviate emotional and physical distress created by abstinence from the drug. Addicted individuals compulsively use the drug in order to reduce the hypohedonia, anxiety, irritability and other symptoms of drug abstinence. Such negative reinforcement is known as the “dark side of addiction.” Koob’s research presents compelling evidence that plasticity in the brain’s emotional systems adapts to repeated drug taking and contributes to the development and persistence of compulsive drug seeking.

Research!Louisville is the annual exposition of health-related research in the Louisville Medical Center. The 2017 event, scheduled for Sept. 12-15, showcases scientific research, lectures and activities for scientists of all ages. Investigators from high school through professional faculty will present their research in five poster sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Awards for top research presentations will be announced on Friday following the keynote address. Research!Louisville is co-sponsored by UofL, Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation/KentuckyOne Health and Norton Healthcare.

Events during the week include:

  • Women innovators, Sept. 12, 3-5 p.m., KCCTRB, 550 S. Hancock St., Room 124. A panel of women entrepreneurs and innovators will discuss their experiences with the commercialization of university research by licensing to an established company and/or forming a new start-up company.  Panelists will share lessons they have learned and will discuss the “commercialization culture shift” of moving from academic research to working with industry.
  • Kentucky Science Center, Sept. 13, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Kentucky Science Center, 727 W. Main St. A preview in health care training for biomedical-focused middle and high school students. Co-sponsored by UofL and Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s Foundation/KentuckyOne Health, and in collaboration with the Greater Louisville Medical Society and Louisville Women in Medicine and Science, students will work in sessions and hear from leaders in the science community. Students will be introduced to alternative science career opportunities and educational advancements with a biomedical focus. Pulse of Surgery will be one of the highlights, providing students the opportunity to observe a live-streamed open-heart surgery while asking questions of the operating room staff in real time. Pre-registration is required. 
  • Beer with LOTS of Scientists, Sept. 13, 8 p.m., Against the Grain Brewery, 401 E. Main St. This evening gathering will be a get-to-know-you event, with seven or more UofL researchers introducing themselves and their work, then mixing and mingling with guests. Topics will include 3-D printing, pain, nanoparticles, cancer, aging and precision medicine.
  • Translational Research Symposium, Sept. 14, 9–11 a.m., room 124 of KCCTRB. Seven areas of translational research will be highlighted with 10-minute presentations. Areas include cancer, environmental health, neurosciences and spinal cord injury, digestive health, cardiovascular disease, the microbiome, and clinical trials research and services.
  • Across Sectors, Across Generations: Achieving Health Equity for All, Sept. 14, noon, room 101/102 of KCCTRB. Rachel Thornton, MD, PhD, is an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and holds a joint appointment in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her research focuses on childhood obesity and cardiovascular disease risk, health disparities and social determinants of health. She has expertise in racial/ethnic disparities in health and health care. Thornton is committed to informing the development of novel interventions to eliminate health disparities by addressing individual, family and community level factors that contribute to disparities in child and adolescent obesity and cardiovascular disease risk. 

More information, including a poster abstract booklet and a program of events for the 22nd annual Research!Louisville, is available online.

Betty Coffman
Betty Coffman is a Communications Coordinator focused on research and innovation at UofL. A UofL alumna and Louisville native, she served as a writer and editor for local and national publications and as an account services coordinator and copywriter for marketing and design firms prior to joining UofL’s Office of Communications and Marketing.