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Conference to Explore Neuroscience-based Treatments for Alcohol and Drug Addiction

Leaders from a variety of fields will explore the latest research on addiction as a brain disease, and emerging treatment avenues that address its neurobiological, molecular, and/or genetic aspects.

Published May 04, 2016

NEW YORK, May 4, 2016 — On May 18 - 20, the New York Academy of Sciences, Science Translational Medicine, and The Aspen Brain Forum Foundation will present The Addicted Brain and New Treatment Frontiers: Sixth Annual Aspen Brain Forum. The conference, held at the Academy and via simulcast Webinar, will explore research that suggests that drug and alcohol addiction-which contributes to the death of more than 90,000 Americans annually-is strongly related to neurobiological changes in the brain, and push progress on the nascent field of neuroscience-based therapeutic strategies.

"Addiction is a disease of the brain. So, just like any other disease-cancer, diabetes, or asthma-the more we know about the etiology and trajectory of the disorder, the smarter and more targeted the approaches we will be able to develop," says conference keynote speaker Nora D. Volkow, MD, Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse.

This 2.5-day conference will convene a multidisciplinary group of researchers, clinicians, government and industry representatives, and non-profit leaders to discuss the latest scientific advances in the field of addiction, with the end goal of improving treatment. The event will feature sessions and presentations focused on the neural circuitry of addiction, neuroplasticity, the susceptibility of the developing adolescent brain, and new horizons for treatment strategies.

"We know that alcohol use disorders are moderately to highly heritable, indicating that genes are important. However, no one is fated by their genes to develop an alcohol use disorder. Our current work aims to identify environmental factors that enhance vulnerability, or that may be protective, in people at higher risk either because of inheritance or any other factors, and for example environmental exposures early in life," says conference organizer and keynote speaker George F. Koob, PhD, Director, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

The conference will include a session dedicated to improving social and government policies so that neuroscience research can be more effectively applied to addiction treatment.

Conference keynote speaker Patrick J. Kennedy, Former U.S. Representative, Rhode Island; Co-Founder, One Mind for Research; and Founder, The Kennedy Forum, will lend both a personal and political voice to the issue of addiction. "One of the defining characteristics of this disease is silence, and only when we speak out, use our voices, and share our stories will policymakers take notice and craft better solutions," says the author of the recently published book, A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction.

"The Aspen Brain Forum Foundation chose 'The Addicted Brain' as the topic for this year's conference because of the huge positive impact that new research and new treatments for addiction and alcoholism will have on individuals, families and society-bringing renewed hope and lasting recovery," say conference organizers Glenda Greenwald, President and Founder, and Joseph Dial, Chair, Scientific Advisory Board, The Aspen Brain Forum Foundation.

Conference speakers will represent the fields of neuroscience, behavioral physiology/medicine, cognitive and clinical neuroimaging, pharmacogenetics, neurobiology, psychology, epigenetics, genetic medicine, criminal justice, policy, and economics.

"AAAS and Science Translational Medicine are delighted to be partnering with the New York Academy of Sciences and The Aspen Brain Forum Foundation for the third time on a conference that brings together experts across many disciplines to discuss the many facets of drug addiction and ways forward to find solutions to this tragic problem," says conference organizer Orla Smith, PhD, Managing Editor, Science Translational Medicine.

The conference will kick off with a public lecture, Arrested Development: The Teenage Brain and Substance Abuse, and reception on Wednesday, May 18. The public lecture will also be available via Livestream.

For media inquiries, including requests for press passes, please contact Diana Friedman (; 212-298-8645).

Conference Support

The Forum is generously supported by the following organizations: Braeburn Pharmaceuticals (Bronze Sponsor) and Addiction Technology Transfer Centers, Gosnold on Cape Cod, and The Peter G. Dodge Foundation (Academy Friends). Indivior Inc. has provided unrestricted funding to support the program. WNYC is a media sponsor; and promotional partners include: 8th Annual Mississippi Addiction Conference, Botec Analysis Corp., College on Problems of Drug Dependence, The Dana Foundation, Greater NYC Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience, International Society of Addiction Medicine, NAADAC - The Association for Addiction Professionals, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., and Neuropsychopharmacology.

About The New York Academy of Sciences

The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide. With more than 20,000 members in 100 countries around the world, the Academy is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. The Academy's core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large. Please visit us online at

About The Aspen Brain Forum

The Aspen Brain Forum Foundation is a high-level think tank located in the retreat setting of Aspen, Colorado, with the mission of funding, producing, and hosting an annual meeting with our strategic partners the New York Academy of Sciences and Science Translational Medicine on cutting-edge topics in neuroscience to advance global collaboration and scientific breakthroughs. In 2012 Aspen Brain Forum began alliances with the American Brain Coalition, the American Brain Foundation and One Mind for Research, to enhance efforts to prevent and cure brain disorders such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Autism, and Depression, within a decade. For more information, please visit To further our mission to educate the public on brain health, Aspen Brain Forum produces Aspen Brain Lab, an all-day lecture series featuring experts on the brain, mindfulness and wellness, targeted to the general public. For information, please visit

About Science Translational Medicine

Science Translational Medicine, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is the leading weekly online journal publishing research at the intersection of science, engineering and medicine. The goal of Science Translational Medicine is to promote human health by providing a forum for communicating the latest biomedical research findings from basic, translational, and clinical researchers from all established and emerging disciplines relevant to medicine. Despite 50 years of advances in our fundamental understanding of human biology and the emergence of powerful new technologies, the translation of this knowledge into effective new treatments and health measures has been slow. Science Translational Medicine seeks to publish articles that identify and fill the scientific knowledge gaps at the junction of basic research and medical application in order to accelerate the translation of this knowledge into new ways for preventing, diagnosing, and treating human disease.


Marie Gentile
Director, Communications