Anna Rose Childress, Ph.D.
Anna Rose Childress, Ph.D., is Research Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. She is Director of the Brain- Behavioral Vulnerabilities Division at the Center for the Study of Addictions, where she has conducted NIH/NIDA-funded research projects for more than two decades.
Dr. Childress' addiction research has focused on the motivation for drug use/relapse, with an emphasis on understanding and treating the profound craving states elicited by drug cues (heroin, cocaine and nicotine). Her early work characterized the subjective and physiological responses to drug cues, developing behavioral "anti-craving" strategies. She then combined cue paradigms with neuroimaging tools, demonstrating limbic activation ("GO!") both to prolonged and to exceptionally brief -- even "unseen" -- drug cues.
Her laboratory has also demonstrated inhibitory deficits and focal defects (hypoperfusion and hypodensity of gray matter) in the frontal ("STOP!") brain regions of cocaine patients. These defects, in regions that usually modulate downstream limbic "GO!" activity, may help explain vulnerabilities not only to relapse but to addiction itself. Dr. Childress' current work uses novel brain-behavioral paradigms to test candidate medication (e.g., GABAergics) with potential impact on both substance and non- substance addictions.