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Department of Pharmacology

Houston, Texas

BCM students are involved in research.
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Thomas Kosten, M.D.

Photo of Drs. Terri and Tom Kosten

Jay H Waggoner Chair and Professor - Department of Psychiatry

Professor, Department of Neuroscience

Research Director of the VA National Substance Use Disorders Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI)

Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry and Epidemiology at MD Anderson Cancer Center

Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at UT Houston Medical Center

Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at Peking University, Beijing, China

Distinguished Professor, Chinese National Institute of Drug Dependence

Education and Awards

  • B.S., 1973, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • M.D., 1977, Cornell College of Medicine
  • M.A., 1995, Yale University
  • Intern, 1977-1978, Greenwich Hospital, Greenwich, CT
  • Resident, 1978-81, Yale University School of Medicine
  • Joseph Cochin Award for research in substance abuse, Committee on Problems of Drug Dependence, Chartered Committee of National Academy of Science
  • President, College on Problems of Drug Dependence; Past President, American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry
  • Joel Elkes International Award for Outstanding Contributions to Psychopharmacology, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology
  • Member, Committee on Vaccines for Substance Abuse of National Academies of Sciences Institute of Medicine
  • Editor-in-Chief, American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Research Interests:

Dr. Tom Kosten’s research group moved from Yale University to Baylor College of Medicine in 2006. They are setting up new work in several areas of neuroscience and would welcome graduate students and post-doctoral fellows interested in translational neuroscience and behavioral pharmacology involving substance dependence, particularly. The lab that Dr. Tom Kosten runs in conjunction with Dr. Therese A. Kosten, also includes broader interests in developmental epigenetics of behavioral disorders. Their laboratory carries out clinical neuroscience studies in substance dependence and post traumatic stress disorder utilizing neuroimaging, pharmacogenetics, and immunotherapy. The lab has collaborative research with investigators and patient populations in St. Petersburg, Russia and Beijing, China. The research in the Kostens’ lab is divided into three major approaches:


Research includes detecting and treating cocaine induced cerebral perfusion defects and using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to predict pharmacotherapy outcomes. The lab is also conducting experiments with amphetamine administration utilizing fMRI.


Work focuses on medication development and over the past 10 years has led to the successful development of a cocaine vaccine that has now entered the final phases of human studies for FDA approval. The lab is also working on animal models of immunotherapy for methamphetamine.


Work includes translational research for cocaine, nicotine, opiates and alcohol. Disulfiram is being evaluated for cocaine dependence. This inhibitor of the enzyme dopamine beta hydroxylase has shown clinical efficacy in patients with genetically low levels of this enzyme, which is low due to a single nucleotide polymorphism in the promoter region. Animal models show that disulfiram also induces expression of genes which can reverse deficits induced by chronic cocaine including loss of dopamine receptors. The lab is also studying the alpha 7 cholinergic receptor in nicotine dependent schizophrenics in China treated with an alpha 7 cholinergic partial agonist. The mu opiate receptor is being evaluated opiate and alcohol dependent patients in Russia who are being treated with the mu opiate antagonist, naltrexone. Animal studies of RNA expression profiling and specific genetic polymorphisms are planned for these other medications and abused drugs.

Publications by Dr. Kosten

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