Laboratory of Addictive Disorders


Pietro Cottone, Ph.D. & Valentina Sabino, Ph.D.

Open positions in LAD may be available year round. Please contact Drs. Cottone ( and Sabino ( for information.

The major interest of the Laboratory of Addictive Disorders (LAD) is to unravel the neurobiological mechanisms of motivated behaviors. Research is focused on assessing the effects of exposure to rewards -including alcohol, drugs and palatable food- on behavior and brain function. The laboratory uses environmental and genetic animal models of disease, coupled to molecular biological and biochemical techniques.

Mission of LAD:
The LAD is committed to:
o   Conduct research that expands our understanding of the pathophysiology and prevention of psychiatric diseases, and apply this to the development of novel therapeutics.
o   Provide outstanding and multidisciplinary training to graduate and undergraduate students.

Dr. Sabino’s primary interests are to understand the neurobiological substrates of addiction to drugs of abuse -especially alcohol- as well as stress-related disorders and depression. An integrative behavioral, pharmacological and molecular approach is utilized to achieve the goals. The laboratory is working toward the development of new therapeutic agents to treat these psychiatric diseases.  Current projects include exploring the role of the sigma receptor system in alcohol addiction and depression, and the investigation of the role of hypothalamic and extrahypothalamic neuropeptide systems in stress and anxiety.

Dr. Cottone’s research interests focus on the neurobiology of motivated behaviors and stress-related disorders. The major goal of Dr. Cottone’s research is identifying the biological bases of and potential treatments for eating disorders and obesity. Current projects evaluate the role of the corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) and the endocannabinoid systems in compulsive eating and hedonic food intake. Dr. Cottone’s studies are carried out on environmental and genetic animal models, using behavioral, biochemical, and molecular approaches.

Dr. Cottone and Dr. Sabino are Training Faculty in the following programs:
Boston University Ph.D. Program in Biomolecular Pharmacology
Boston University Graduate Program for Neuroscience