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Olivier George, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
CoDirector ARC Animal Core
Department of Neuroscience
California Campus
Laboratory Website
Scripps VIVO Scientific Profile
(858) 784-9039

Scripps Research Joint Appointments

Faculty, Graduate Program

Research Focus

Olivier George has a major interest in the brain stress and cognitive systems in drug addiction. The main goals of his lab are to unveil the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the transition to drug addiction, and to develop novel pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments to reduce compulsive drug seeking and taking. Dr George and his team have identified that activation of the CRF system in the extended amygdala and prefrontal cortex during withdrawal mediates excessive nicotine and alcohol intake. He has also demonstrated that escalation of cocaine, methamphetamine and alcohol intake produces a dysfunction of the prefrontal cortex leading to cognitive impairment. Dr. George has also pioneered the development of two novel animal models of escalation of nicotine intake and exposure to electronic cigarette. Current studies are exploring the role of the CRF, dynorphin, hypocretin and steroid systems in addiction to alcohol, nicotine, cocaine and prescription opiates. Dr. George is also CoDirector of the Animal Models/Biochemical Core of the TSRI-Alcohol Research Center and his work is funded by NIAAA and NIDA.


Ph.D. (Neurosciences and Neuropharmacology), University of Bordeaux Segalen (Bordeaux 2) 2004
M.Sc. (Neurosciences and Neuropharmacology), University of Bordeaux Segalen (Bordeaux 2) 2001

Professional Experience

2013-present: Assistant Professor / Co-director Alcohol Research Center - Animal Core
2011-2013: Senior Staff Scientist / Co-director Alcohol Research Center - Animal Core 
2009-2010: Staff Scientist / Co-director Lab. of Neuropharmacology and Alcohol Research Center - Animal Core
2008-2009: Senior Research Associate
2006-2007: Research Associate Laboratory of Neuropharmacology. The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla CA, USA.
2004-2006: Postdoctoral Fellow Bordeaux Neuroscience Institute, Inserm, Piazza lab, Bordeaux, France.
2001-2004: Graduate Student University of Bordeaux II, Le Moal lab, Bordeaux, France.

Awards & Professional Activities

Selected References

All Publications

Long-term antagonism of kappa opioid receptors prevents escalation of and increased motivation for heroin intake. Schlosburg J, Whitfield TJ. Park P, Crawford E, George O, Vendruscolo L, Koob G. Journal of Neuroscience. 2013 in press.

Dopamine D1 and μ-opioid receptor antagonism blocks anticipatory 50 kHz ultrasonic vocalizations induced by palatable food cues in Wistar rats. Buck CL, Vendruscolo LF, Koob GF, George O. Psychopharmacology. 2013 Nov 13.

Extended access to nicotine leads to a CRF(1) receptor dependent increase in anxiety-like behavior and hyperalgesia in rats. Cohen A, Treweek J, Edwards S, Leão RM, Schulteis G, Koob GF, George O. Addiction Biology. 2013 Jul 22. doi: 10.1111/adb.12077. PMID: 23869743. 

Animal models of nicotine exposure: relevance to second-hand smoking, electronic cigarette use, and compulsive smoking. Cohen A, George O. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 2013 Jun 4;4:41. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2013.00041. PMID: 23761766

Addiction as a stress surfeit disorder. Koob GF, Buck CL, Cohen A, Edwards S, Park PE, Schlosburg JE, Schmeichel B, Vendruscolo LF, Wade CL, Whitfield TW Jr, George O. Neuropharmacology. 2013 Jun 6. doi:pii: S0028-3908(13)00238-4. PMID: 23747571.

Neuropeptide Y Y(2) R blockade in the central amygdala reduces anxiety-like behavior but not alcohol drinking in alcohol-dependent rats. Kallupi M, Vendruscolo LF, Carmichael CY, George O, Koob GF, Gilpin NW. Addiction Biology. 2013 May 3. doi: 10.1111/adb.12059. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 23639035.

Control of craving by the prefrontal cortex. George O, Koob GF. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A. 2013 Mar 12;110(11):4165-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1301245110. Epub 2013 Mar 4. PubMed PMID: 23483010

Nicotine Vapor Inhalation Escalates Nicotine Self-Administration. Gilpin N, Whitaker A, Baynes B, Abdel A, Weil M, George O. Addiction Biology. 2012 Dec 14. doi: 10.1111/adb.12021

Hippocampal neurogenesis protects against cocaine-primed relapse. Deschaux O, Vendruscolo L, Schlosburg J, Diaz-Aguilar L, Yuan CJ, Sobieraj JC, George O, Koob GF, and Mandyam CD. Addiction Biology. 2012 Dec 24. doi: 10.1111/adb.12019.

Recruitment of medial prefrontal cortex neurons during alcohol withdrawal predicts cognitive impairment and excessive alcohol drinking. George O, Sanders C, Freiling J, Grigoryan E, Vu S, Allen CD, Crawford E, Mandyam CD, Koob GF. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A. 2012 Oct 30;109(44):18156-61. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1116523109. Epub 2012 Oct 15. PubMed PMID: 23071333.

Robust escalation of nicotine intake in extended access to nicotine self-administration with intermittent periods of abstinence. Cohen A, Koob GF, George O. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2012 Aug;37(9):2153-60. doi: 10.1038/npp.2012.67. Epub 2012 May 2. PubMed PMID: 22549121; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3398720.

Phasic D1 and tonic D2 dopamine signaling double dissociate the motivational effects of acute nicotine and chronic nicotine withdrawal. Grieder TE, George O, Tan H, George SR, Le Foll B, Laviolette SR, van der Kooy D. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A. 2012 in press.

Allostasis and Addiction: Role of the Dopamine and Corticotropin-Releasing Factor Systems. George O, Le Moal M, Koob GF. Physiology and Behavior. 2012 Apr 12;106(1):58-64.

Levels of neural progenitors in the hippocampus predicts memory impairments and relapse to drug seeking as a function of excessive methamphetamine self-administration Recinto P, Samant ARH, Chavez G, Kim A, Yuan CJ, Soleiman M, Grant Y, Edwards S, Wee S, Koob GF, George O, Mandyam CD. Neuropsychopharmacology 2012 Apr;37(5):1275-87.

Craving, context and the cortex. George O, Koob GF. Nature Neuroscience. 2011 Apr;14(4):409-10.

Varenicline blocks nicotine intake in rats with extended access to nicotine self-administration. George O, Lloyd A, Carroll FI, Damaj MI, Koob GF. Psychoharmacology. 2010  DOI 10.1007/s00213-010-2024-3

Exposure to chronic intermittent nicotine vapor induces nicotine dependence. George O, Grieder TE, Cole M, Koob GF. Pharmacology Biochemistry & Behavior. 2010 Jul; 96(1):104-7. Epub 2010 Apr 24.

Individual differences in prefrontal cortex function and the transition from drug use to drug dependence. George O, Koob GF. Neuroscience Biobehavioral Review. 2010 May 20. [Epub ahead of print]

Low Brain Allopregnanolone Levels Mediate Flattened Circadian Activity Associated with Memory Impairments in Aged Rats. George O, Vallée M, Vitiello S, Moal ML, Piazza PV, Mayo W. Biological Psychiatry. 2010 May 13. [Epub ahead of print]

A role for the endocannabinoid system in the increased motivation for cocaine in extended-access conditions. Orio L, Edwards S, George O, Parsons LH, Koob GF. Journal of Neuroscience. 2009 Apr 15;29(15):4846-57.

Extended Access to Cocaine Self-Administration Produces Long-Lasting Prefrontal Cortex-Dependent Working Memory Impairments. George O, Mandyam CD, Wee S and Koob GF. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2008, (33), 2474-2482

CRF-CRF1 system activation mediates withdrawal-induced increases in nicotine self-administration in nicotine dependent rats. George O, Ghozland S, Azar M, Zorrilla E, Parsons L,’Dell L, Richardson H, Koob GF. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A. 2007 Oct, 104(43): 17198-203 Epub 2007 Oct 5 25.