Source: Interfolio F180

Cindy Ehlers

Department of Neuroscience


Scripps Research Joint Appointments

Molecular Medicine

Research Focus

Understanding genetic risk and protective factors for alcoholism in Native, African and Hispanic Americans.

Our laboratory has been studying natural variation in the genes that encode the structure of the enzymes that metabolize alcohol between ethnic groups and conducting genome-wide scans for other genes that influence the development of alcoholism. The goal of our studies is to identify candidate genes that encode for the neurophysiological processes that underlie drug dependence. Genetic information is combined with data on clinical course and environmental risk factors with the aim of: describing the etiology of substance dependence; and developing prevention and intervention programs appropriate to the different ethnic groups.

A second thrust of our laboratory involves the investigation of the toxic effects of alcohol on the developing fetal and adolescent brain.


B.S. (Physiology), University of California, Davis, 1973
Ph.D. (Physiology), University of California, Davis, 1977

Professional Experience

1977-1979 Post Doctoral Fellow, University of California, Los Angeles
1979-1983 Senior Research Associate, Arthur Vining David Center for Behavioral Neurobiology, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies
1983-1989 Assistant Professor, Research Institute of Scripps Clinic
1989-2008 Associate Professor with Tenure, Neurobiology, Scripps Research
2008-2012 Professor, Molecular adn integrative Neurosciences (MIND), Scripps Research
-2017 Professor (Joint Appointment), Molecular and Experimental Medicine (MEM), Scripps Research
2013-2017 Professor, Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience (MCN), Scripps Research

Other Joint Appointments Professor of Psychiatry (adjunct), University of California, San Diego, CA
Professor of Psychiatry (adjunct), University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

Awards & Professional Activities

Citation for Outstanding Performance in Physiology, UC Davis
1979 Giannini Foundation Fellow, UCLA
1980 Klingenstein Foundation Fellow, The Salk Institute
1985 Research Scientist Award, MacArthur Foundation Network Scientist
1986 Research Scientist Development Awards, NIAAA
2007 Thurman Award, UNC Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies
2007 Merit Award, National Institute of Health
2011 Wendy and Stanley Marsh 3 Endowed Lectureship, TTUHSC
2014 RSA Distinguished Researcher Award, Research Society on Alcoholism
2020 Henri Begleiter Excellence Research Award, Research Society on Alcoholism

Other Professional Activities
Journal Associate Editorships: Reviewing Editor, Alcoholism, Clinical & Experimental Research, Associate Editor, Biological Psychiatry and Journal of Alcohol Studies
NIAAA Council, 2007-2010
Steering Committee member National Advisory Board on Underage Drinking 2004
Board of Directors, Research Society on Alcoholism, 1999-2002
Scientific Advisory Board for the Alcohol Research Center University of North Carolina, Skipper Bowles Center 1997
Scientific Advisory Board Alcohol Research Center Howard University 2004
Scientific Advisory Board Alcohol Research Center UC Berkeley CA 2004-present.
Member, program committee ACNP 2000-2003
Chairman, Awards Committee RSA, 2000
Member, Committee on Social Outcomes, San Diego Foundation 1998-2000.
Chair: Education & Training Committee, ACNP, 1998-1999
Consultant, Native American Graves protection and repatriation committee, culture and language retention committee, Luiseno nation-inter tribal coalition, 1998-present.

Journal Associate/Review Editorships:
Alcoholism: Clinical Experimental Research
Biological Psychiatry
Critical Reviews in Neurobiology
Depression and Anxiety

Fellow, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology
Research Society on Alcoholism
Society for Neuroscience
Society for Biological Psychiatry
International Behavioural and Neural Genetics Society
International Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism
International Society for Psychoneuroendocrinology (scientific secretariat, 1997)
International Society for Twin Studies

Selected Publications

Wehrenberg, W. B.; Ehlers, Cindy L. Effects of growth-hormone releasing-factor in the brain. Science 1986, 232, 1271-1272.

Ehlers, C L.; Frank, E; Kupfer, D J. Social zeitgebers and biological rhythms. A unified approach to understanding the etiology of depression. Archives of General Psychiatry 1988, 45, 948-52.

Kupfer, D. J.; Ehlers, Cindy L. Two roads to rapid eye movement latency. Archives of General Psychiatry 1989, 46, 945-948.

Ehlers, Cindy L.; Havstad, J. W.; Garfinkel, A.; Kupfer, D. J. Nonlinear-analysis of EEG sleep states. Neuropsychopharmacology 1991, 5, 167-176.

Ehlers, Cindy L.; Kupfer, David J.; Frank, Ellen; Monk, Timothy H. Biological rhythms and depression: The role of zeitgebers and zeitstorers. Depression 1993, 285-293.

Ehlers, Cindy L. Chaos and complexity - can it help us to understand mood and behavior. Archives of General Psychiatry 1995, 52, 960-964.