The primary mission of the CSA is to continue to advance the cutting edge of knowledge on the nature of addiction and the best ways to relieve this terrible illness. Our research is translational in two directions. We carry knowledge from the preclinical laboratory to formal clinical trials in a university setting. We also translate knowledge learned from clinical trials to the average practitioner in the community. Thus the medications and behavioral treatments discovered in our research can have an impact on the care received by patients all over the world.


Developing and maintaining educational programs that teach the causes of addiction and the effective methods used to assess and treat the illness is another key component of our Center’s mission. The design and content of our educational programs strongly reflect the field’s significant research findings, much of which came from studies conducted at the Center. Included in these programs is the University’s full course on addiction, now required for all Penn medical students. Currently, it is the only medical school course of its kind in the United States. We also conduct training of psychiatric residents as well as residents in medicine and primary care. We have an NIH postdoctoral research training program for clinicians desiring board certification in Addiction Psychiatry and for PhDs and MDs desiring a research career in this field.

Patient Care: 

Essentially, the same research findings that have influenced the design of our educational programs have provided the framework for our Patient Care delivery. The methods we use to diagnose and understand the severity of the illness as well as the interventions for treating it are all part of evidenced-based protocols. Individuals seeking treatment for substance-related addictions may receive care through one of the following options: 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) the Center can help the individual arrange a self-referral to one of the local community-based treatment programs. When option 3 is chosen, the individual should first review the list of community-based programs available (see link below). The Center intake staff will then serve as information resources to help the person select a program that will best match his/her treatment needs. Click on the link below for more details and contacts related to patient care resources:

Click here to learn about our Patient Care Treatment and Information Resources

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