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Kelly Cosgrove, PhD

Professor of Psychiatry and of Neuroscience and of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging; Co-Director of the T32 Translational Alcohol Research Program, Psychiatry and Public Health

Contact Information

Kelly Cosgrove, PhD

Office Location

Mailing Address

  • Psychiatry

    300 George St

    New Haven, CT 06511-

    United States

Research Summary

We are using novel, creative PET paradigms to gain insight into the neurochemical mechanisms that drive and promote the recovery from addiction and psychiatric disorders. PET allows us to measure specific molecules in the living human brain. We are particularly interested in identifying deficits in the cholinergic, dopaminergic, and glutamatergic neurotransmitter systems and in the neuroimmune system in people who drink and use drugs and how these systems change during recovery. We are uncovering variables such as stress, sex, neurocognitive function, mood, and psychiatric status that influence these changes. We are also examining the neuroadaptations that occur in individuals with PTSD including changes in epigenetics, and in the glucocorticoid and neuroimmune systems. In addition to PET, we incorporate structural and functional MRI in our studies and we are developing and performing dual-tracer and multi-modal analyses to fully leverage our data sets.

Specialized Terms: Positron Emission Tomography; Neuroimaging; Alcohol Use Disorder; Tobacco Smoking; Opioid Use Disorder; Posttraumatic Stress Disorder; Brain; nicotinic acetylcholine receptor; Glutamate; Sex differences, Dopamine; Neuroimmune; Synaptic Plasticity

Extensive Research Description

  • Understanding the functional basis and behavioral and cognitive correlates of the changes in beta2*-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor availability during acute and prolonged abstinence in tobacco smokers.
  • Examining the changes in mglu5 receptor availability that occur during acute and prolonged abstinence from alcohol and nicotine dependence.
  • Radiotracer development targeted at the stress and glucocorticoid systems.
  • Examination of sex differences in the dopaminergic signature of smoking- and nicotine-induced dopamine release using novel PET brain imaging techniques.
  • Examining effects of chronic alcohol consumption on the neuroimmune system and relationships to synaptic plasticity in living humans with alcohol use disorder.
  • Examining the stress and neuroimmune system with PET and the application to psychiatric disorders such as PTSD.
  • Measuring the neuroimmune state of the brain in individuals with opioid use disorder during early recovery.


Research Interests

Alcohol Drinking; Brain; Opioid-Related Disorders; Neurobiology; Nicotine; Radiology; Positron-Emission Tomography; Neuroimaging; alpha7 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor; Diseases; Chemicals and Drugs; Psychiatry and Psychology

Selected Publications

Clinical Trials

ConditionsStudy Title
Mental Health & Behavioral ResearchHPA axis function in the brains of PTSD, Trauma Exposed, or Otherwise Healthy research participants utilizing PET and MRI imaging
Addictive BehaviorsPET Imaging of Microglia with [11C]PBR28 in Opioid Dependent and Healthy Control Subjects
Mental Health & Behavioral ResearchDysregulation in mGluR5 as a marker of BPD and suicide related endophenotypes
Mental Health & Behavioral ResearchEligibility for Participation in Neuroimaging Studies
Addictive Behaviors; Mental Health & Behavioral Research; Tobacco AddictionImaging smoking-induced dopamine release utilizing PET imaging and nicotine patches
Mental Health & Behavioral ResearchMechanistic Evaluation of Guanfacine on Drinking Behavior
Addictive BehaviorsImaging Synaptic Density in Cocaine and Opiate Addiction In Vivo using 11C-UCB-J PET
Addictive Behaviors; Alcohol Addiction; Mental Health & Behavioral ResearchBehavioral and Neurochemical Mechanisms Underlying Stress-Precipitated Drinking
Diseases of the Nervous System; Mental Health & Behavioral ResearchExamination of Glutamate and mGluR5 in Psychiatric Disorders
Mental Health & Behavioral ResearchImaging mGluR5 and synaptic density in psychiatric disorders
Mental Health & Behavioral ResearchImaging SV2A in mood disorders
Addictive Behaviors; Diseases of the Nervous System; Genetics - Adult; Mental Health & Behavioral ResearchImaging Cannabinoid Receptors Using Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scanning
Mental Health & Behavioral ResearchStudying the Adult Brain
Alcohol Addiction; Mental Health & Behavioral ResearchThe Effect of Acute Stress and Inflammation on Drinking
Obesity & Weight Control Imaging cortisol metabolism in liver, adipose tissue and brain with a novel PET radioligand