Dr. Amira K. Brown is an Assistant Professor and Drug Addiction Researcher at The Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Molecular Medicine. She is also an Assistant Professor at UCLA in the Department of Medicine. Dr. Brown received her M.S., and Ph.D. in experimental neuropsychology from Howard University in Washington DC. She completed a four year post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Robert Innis in positron emission tomography (PET) tracer development and kinetic modeling at the Molecular Imaging Branch of NIMH/NIH. Her current research focuses on using brain imaging techniques (PET and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)) to understand the neural mechanisms involved in the addiction process. In particular, Dr. Brown is interested in examining the disruptions that occur in dopaminergic pathways that lead to addictive behavioral phenotypes.
Dr. Brown is a UCLA CTSI KL2 scholar for a project in which she is using PET to characterize the dopamine (DA) D2 receptor profile in the living brains of high-alcohol-preferring (HAP) and low-alcohol preferring (LAP) mice. This study is also examining the effects of varenicline, a smoking-cessation drug, on DA D2 receptor availability, nicotine and alcohol consumption in these animals. Additionally, Dr. Brown is the principal investigator on a project that examines the relationship between genetic variants related to the dopaminergic system and the effect of an alcohol challenge on intrasynaptic DA release in social drinkers.
In the future, Dr. Brown will design studies that focus on understanding addiction using both pre-clinical and clinical research methodologies in underrepresented minority groups. Her studies will investigate the molecular biomarkers that may predispose certain ethnic groups to alcohol and nicotine co-dependence.