Saving Lives Through Science

A Proven Leader in Developing New Approaches to Treat Addiction

Addiction touches so many lives. One in every ten Americans is addicted to alcohol or drugs. Yet only about 10 percent of those who suffer from addiction receive medication to treat it. Science can help change this picture. Understanding the biological, environmental and genetic factors that contribute to addiction is absolutely critical to overcoming this heartbreaking epidemic and saving lives. The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) has long been a leader in the field of addiction studies, conducting groundbreaking research that has changed the way we think about addiction and the tools we have available to treat it.

A National Crisis

  • Alcohol abuse leads to 88,000 deaths in the US each year; an estimated 76 million Americans have been exposed to alcoholism in the family.
  • Cigarette smoking kills some 440,000 Americans and 6 million people worldwide each year.
  • Overdoses from illicit drugs – including cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, “bath salts” and other drugs of abuse – kill nearly 40,000 each year.

The Need for Philanthropy

Despite the great need for research into addictive disorders and new ways to combat them, federal funding for basic biomedical research has been steadily declining in real dollars. Yet addiction continues to devastate individuals, families and communities. Greatly expanded private support is needed to find new treatments and vaccines. As funding for vital research dwindles, we need your help!

Our Initiatives

TSRI cultivates an interdisciplinary spirit where neuroscientists, chemists, biologists, and medicinal pharmacologists work hand-in-hand toward a common goal. Scientists specializing in a variety of approaches come together to synergistically address critical needs in addiction research. Your support will expand faculty and postdoctoral fellowships in critical areas, purchase cutting-edge equipment and facilitate clinical trials, so scientists can find breakthroughs in the shortest time feasible.

The purpose of the initiative is to:

  • Learn more about how drugs affect brain function.
  • Find new therapies to counteract addictive effects.
  • Advance these drug candidates and vaccines to clinical trials.
  • Ultimately, provide better tools to people with addictive disorders and their physicians to help conquer the problem.

Our Discoveries

Future discoveries will build on a strong track record of breakthroughs at TSRI, including, to name only a few:

  • Facilitating the approval of two drugs to treat alcohol dependence.
  • Developing an antidote for cocaine overdose in a pre-clinical study.
  • Creating preliminary vaccines against the effects of nicotine, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine – potential treatments that could support addicts committed to recovery by preventing these substances from ever reaching the brain.
  • Conducting the first randomized, controlled clinical trial showing that gabapentin, an FDA-approved drug used for seizures and some types of pain, is safe and effective for treating alcohol dependence while diminishing mood and sleep disturbances.
  • Showing a combination of two existing medications (naltrexone and buprenorphine) has potential for people addicted to cocaine, offering a therapy that would reduce their craving for the drug and blunt their symptoms of withdrawal.
  • Identifying a pathway in the brain that regulates an individual’s vulnerability to the addictive properties of nicotine, suggesting a new target for anti-smoking therapies.

Please Join Us in the Fight for Cures

If you have a loved one who suffers from addiction, you know that every discovery is crucial in the effort to cure this devastating disease. Gifts of all sizes are needed to transform what was once considered beyond the reach of medicine into a manageable disease that can be effectively treated – saving lives, sparing families and creating healthier communities. Let’s work together to make the next breakthrough a reality. Make a tax-deductible gift to TSRI and make a difference today!

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Kim Janda, Ely R. Callaway, Jr. Professor of Chemistry, is working on vaccines that stop drugs of abuse from ever reaching the brain. Read More.

"Many people fail to realize what a powerful, costly, and deadly disease alcoholism is, and how many lives are affected by it," said philanthropist Mark Pearson, who founded the Pearson Center for Alcoholism and Addiction at TSRI. Read More.


Thomas Bannister, PhD
Laura Bohn, PhD
Candice Contet, PhD
Ron Davis, PhD
Cindy Ehlers, PhD
Brock Grill, PhD
Donna Gruol, PhD
Scott Hansen, PhD
Kim Janda, PhD
Theodore Kamenecka, PhD
George Koob, PhD (on leave)
Chitra Mandyam, PhD
Remi Martin-Fardon, PhD
Kirill Martemyanov, PhD
Barbara Mason, PhD
Mark Mayford, PhD
Courtney Miller, PhD
Larry Parsons, PhD
Marisa Roberto, PhD
Amanda Roberts, PhD
Pietro Sanna, MD
Paul Schweiter, PhD
Michael Taffe, PhD
Sunmee Wee, PhD
Friedbert Weiss, PhD
Eric Zorrilla, PhD


More on Addiction Science for New Therapies (pdf)