Welcome to the CSA



The primary mission of the CSA is to advance knowledge on the nature of addiction and the best ways to treat the disorder. Our research is translational in two directions. We apply knowledge from the preclinical laboratory to clinical trials in a university setting. We also translate knowledge learned from clinical trials to the practitioners in the community. Thus, the medications and behavioral treatments discovered or refined in our research can have an impact on the care received by patients all over the world.


Another key component of our Center’s mission is the development and maintenance of educational programs on the causes of addiction and the best methods to assess and treat the disorder. The design and content of our educational programs strongly reflect the field’s significant research findings, much of which come from studies conducted at the Center. Included in these programs is the University’s teaching on addiction, a key component of the Penn medical student’s curriculum.  We also train psychiatric residents and residents in medicine and primary care. We have an ACGME-approved fellowship training program for clinicians desiring board certification in Addiction Psychiatry and an NIH-funded addiction research training program for PhDs and MDs.

Patient Care:

Research findings that influenced the design of our educational programs have also provided the framework for our patient care practices. The methods we use to diagnose the presence and severity of addictive disorders and the interventions for treating them are evidenced-based protocols. Individuals seeking treatment for substance-related addictions may receive care through one of the following:

1. Referral to one of the Center’s clinical trials to learn the details of the study and to determine eligibility for enrollment,

2. Referral to the fee-based, private-practice treatment program located at the O’Brien Center, or

3. Assistance in arranging a self-referral to one of the local community-based treatment programs.

CSA In the News

Daily drinking found to reduce brain size

Dr. Reagan Wetherill and Dr. Henry Kranzler's research on alcohol consumption and brain changes revealed that going from one to two drinks a day was associated with changes in the brain equivalent to aging two years. Heavier drinking was linked with an even greater toll.

The Science of Alcohol Blackouts

Dr. Reagan Wetherill's research on how alcohol consumption affects memory is covered in an article on Elemental.

CSA Awarded NIH Grant to Develop New Strategies for Treating Opioid Addiction (click for more)

Kyle Kampman, MDKevin Lynch, PhDJames McKay, PhD, Daniel Langleben, MD, George Woody, MD, and David Oslin, MD will investigate treatment strategies for opioid use disorder as part of a new NIH initiative - Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL).

Penn study finds genetic differences between heavy drinkers and alcoholics (click for more)

Henry R. Kranzler, MD (Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Center for Studies of Addiction) discusses his latest genetic research, which indicates that heavy drinking is not a sufficient cause of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) despite it being a risk factor.

Philadelphia Spike In Suspected Cocaine-Fentanyl Overdoses Alarms Health Officials (click for more)

Anna Rose Childress, PhD (Research Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry) was interviewed  about the spike in overdoses due to an unbeknownst  combination of crack cocaine and the synthetic opioid fentanyl.