Judson Brewer, MD, PhD

Departments & Organizations

Center for Nicotine and Tobacco Use Research at Yale (CENTURY)

Yale Global Mental Health Program

Yale Therapeutic Neuroscience Clinic

Office of Cooperative Research


I received by BA in chemistry from Princeton University and my MD/PhD from Washington University in St. Louis, where my thesis work focused on molecular mechanisms of stress hormone regulation of the immune system using conditional knockout mouse models. After training in mindfulness meditation during medical and graduate school, I shifted my focus from animal models of stress, to the elucidation of neurobiological mechanisms underlying the interface between stress, mindfulness and the addictive process, and in developing effective means for the modulation of these processes to better treat substance use disorders and deliver mindfulness training.

My laboratory has developed and tested treatments that help individuals with substance use disorders (e.g. smoking) using mindfulness training. For example, we have found that mindfulness is twice as effective as leading treatments for smoking cessation, and that it moderates the decoupling of craving and smoking. We have gone on to develop web/app-based approaches as scalable solutions for smoking cessation, and are now testing their efficacy.

Additionally, my laboratory has studied the neurobiological mechanisms of meditation, finding that areas of the default-mode network (e.g. the posterior cingulate cortex) are specifically deactivated during different types of meditation. We are now using real-time fMRI neurofeedback to link subjective experience with brain activity, and are beginning to test EEG methods for these purposes.

Education & Training

PhD Washington University School of Medicine, Immunology (2004)
MD Washington University School of Medicine (2004)
BA Princeton University, Chemistry (1996)
Resident Yale University School of Medicine

Honors & Recognition

  • College on Problems of Drug Dependence Early Career Investigator AwardCollege on Problems of Drug Dependence (2008)

  • Seymour L. Lustman Research Award for distinction in research during residencyYale University School of Medicine (2008)

  • Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Fellow for excellence in researchWashington University School of Medicine (2002)

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