Society for Neuroscience Honors Rita Z. Goldstein, PhD, with the Jacob P. Waletzky Award

Mount Sinai Researcher Honored for Translational Addiction Research

New York
 – November 1, 2013 /Press Release/  –– 

The Society for Neuroscience will present Rita Z. Goldstein, PhD, Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, with the Jacob P. Waletzky Award at the Society for Neuroscience's 43rd Annual Meeting, November 13 in San Diego.

The award, supported by The Waletzky Family, is given to a neuroscientist conducting ground-breaking addiction research. Recipients receive a $25,000 prize.

Dr. Goldstein is the first scientist to receive this award for neuroimaging research in humans. Until this year, the award was given to basic neuroscientists for studies conducted in animal, cellular and molecular models.

"We commend Dr. Goldstein on her prestigious award," said Larry Swanson, PhD, President of the Society for Neuroscience. "Her efforts will undoubtedly help to influence future work in the addiction arena, as well as in other disorders of impulsivity and drive."

Dr. Goldstein was selected for blazing a path, with studies on the theoretical model she devised together with Nora D. Volkow, MD, Director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) in 2002. The model is called the iRISA (Impaired Response Inhibition and Salience Attribution). The model postulates that drug-addicted individuals have a disproportionate bias towards their drug of choice at the expense of other potential rewards, including natural rewards such as food, with associated reductions in self-control.

Dr. Goldstein uses a variety of methods—spanning functional magnetic resonance imaging and electroencephalography along with neuropsychological tools created specifically to measure the symptoms of iRISA in drug addiction. Using these tools, Dr. Goldstein has helped characterize the role of the prefrontal cortex in the impaired ability to process reward and control behavior in drug addiction, linking behavior, cognition and emotion to brain function and integrity in this chronically relapsing disorder.

Eric Nestler, MD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neuroscience and Director of the Friedman Brain Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, applauded Dr. Goldstein. "We are delighted to have Rita Goldstein and her world-renowned research program at Mount Sinai. Dr. Goldstein's work is distinguished by its unique grounding in basic neuroscience to carry out cutting edge investigations of brain changes in human drug addicted individuals. Her leadership role at Mount Sinai will be instrumental as we establish leading neuroimaging and drug abuse research programs on campus."

Dr. Goldstein credits her colleagues and resources at her lab at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai with facilitating her research. She said: "Support from the Friedman Brain Institute and state-of-the-art imaging facilities at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai's Translational and Molecular Imaging Institute is helping our laboratory to make inroads in discovering new therapeutic targets and developing approaches to remedy compromised brain function in addiction. I am thrilled to be receiving this award. It is a timely recognition of the crucial importance and rigor of neuroimaging studies in people with drug addiction. Our hope is that this research will lead to the development of intervention strategies that will improve treatment of drug addiction and other chronically relapsing disorders."

Dr. Goldstein also expressed gratitude to members of her lab, which she co-directs with Nelly Alia-Klein, PhD, — including newly-appointed Assistant Scientist Scott Moeller, PhD; post-docs Muhammad Parvaz, PhD, and Rebecca Preston-Campbell, PhD; graduate students Anna Konova and Michail Misyrlis; clinical research coordinators and undergraduate and high school students; as well as research volunteers. "My work and productivity have been made possible by too many individuals to name; I am deeply grateful to everyone," she added.

NIDA Director Dr. Volkow  praised Dr. Goldstein for advancing addiction research. "Dr. Goldstein's work has been instrumental in documenting how drug addiction changes the human brain," said Dr. Volkow. "She has used novel imaging and neuropsychological tools to peer deep into the brain, giving us a greater understanding of the connection between brain function and behaviors at the core of drug addiction."

About the Mount Sinai Health System
The Mount Sinai Health System is an integrated health system committed to providing distinguished care, conducting transformative research, and advancing biomedical education. Structured around seven member hospital campuses and a single medical school, the Health System has an extensive ambulatory network and a range of inpatient and outpatient services—from community-based facilities to tertiary and quaternary care. 

The System includes approximately 6,600 primary and specialty care physicians, 12-minority-owned free-standing ambulatory surgery centers, over 45 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, and Long Island, as well as 31 affiliated community health centers. Physicians are affiliated with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, which is ranked among the top 20 medical schools both in National Institutes of Health funding and by U.S. News & World Report.

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