NCRG Conference on Gambling and Addiction

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Scientific Achievement Award Presentation

Dr. Marc Potenza, associate professor of psychiatry and director of the problem gambling clinic at Yale University, was named as the recipient of the 2008 NCRG Scientific Achievement Award today in the senior investigator category. Potenza is the first person to receive NCRG Scientific Achievement Awards in both the Young Investigator (2003) and Senior Investigator categories.

The award was presented by Dr. Peter Nathan, professor emeritus of community and behavioral health at the University of Iowa. The senior investigator award honors scientists whose career work has led to important advancements, discoveries or developments in the field of gambling-related research.

Potenza, who was selected by an independent awards committee, has made contributions to the study of gambling disorders in the areas of population studies, genetics, treatment outcome research and neuroscience. Among the many milestones of his career is his completion of the first two brain imaging studies conducted in this field.

Potenza’s initial groundbreaking brain imaging studies involving subjects with pathological gambling, published in 2003, showed differences in the brain activity of pathological gamblers compared with control subjects and laid the groundwork for future investigations of the neurobiological elements of pathological gambling. Potenza since has conducted research using brain imaging in clinical trials to help identify brain characteristics that may be able to predict whether or not a particular drug treatment will be successful for the patient. His current research also includes a brain-imaging study that has found similarities in the brain activity of pathological gamblers when they experience gambling urges to the brain activity of people with cocaine dependence when they experience cocaine cravings.

Potenza has conducted significant investigations into a biological basis for pathological gambling. This research has included a study into the relationship between pathological gambling and major depression in men, which has helped the scientific community to better identify the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to pathological gambling. In his roles as director of the Women and Addictive Disorders Core, Women’s Health Research at Yale and director of neuroimaging at the Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC) in West Haven, Conn., Potenza has conducted a substantial amount of research into the differences between men and women with pathological gambling, as well as pathological gambling in the context of co-occurring disorders.

Potenza is internationally recognized for his research into drug treatments for pathological gambling and has investigated a series of possible drug therapy treatments, a subject he addressed in today’s conference session, Working with Clients on Medication Management for Gambling and Alcohol Use Disorders.

In addition to his research, Potenza regularly treats individuals with gambling problems and serves as an editorial board member for a number of peer-reviewed scientific journals including the Journal of Addiction Medicine and The American Journal on Addictions. He has authored more than 100 research and theoretical articles and has contributed to more than 40 books. Potenza earned his M.D. at Yale University School of Medicine and his Ph.D. in cell biology at Yale University.


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