WelcomeCenter for Addiction Sciences and Therapeutics

(Formerly Center for Addiction Research)



Kathryn A. Cunningham, Ph.D.

ear Colleagues,
Drug overdose deaths, misuse, and substance use disorders (SUDs) constitute a major, high-impact health problem in the U.S.A.  Provisional data from the CDC indicates there were an estimated 104,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States during the 12-month period ending in September 2021, equaling an astonishing 285 deaths per day. The Covid-19 pandemic erupted in the midst of this ongoing crisis and contributes to the increased drug overdose deaths. These statistics emphasize how drug misuse and SUDs persist as great challenges on the public health agenda, and we must continue to invest innovative thought, intellectual prowess, and disruptive strategies to address this crisis. The loss of human potential is tremendous, and drug misuse and SUDs radically alters the course of lives. In one recent study (JAMA Pediatrics, published online 1/31/22), it is estimated the U.S. had ~200,000 years of life lost to drug overdose in a 5-year period (2015-2019) among our teens and preteens ages 10-19. This is simply a stunning statistic, and immediate action needs to be taken to stop both adolescent and adult overdose deaths. Our field must aggressively pursue novel methods and medications to halt this trend, and we greatly benefit in scientific discovery from the engagement of multidisciplinary teams.

The Center for Addiction Sciences and Therapeutics (CAST) at UTMB is striving to build effective collaborations among scientists with various expertise, backgrounds, and experience to advance mechanistic knowledge in SUDs and related medical disorders. Diversity is a key driver of innovation, and we intently build our teams with this in mind to pursue our goals and outcomes. Perhaps most importantly, we purposefully work to move these discoveries toward novel therapeutic approaches in a translational manner (bench-to-bedside). The CAR is composed of faculty from across the UTMB campus in several departments and disciplines with interests in SUDs research, education, and treatment. Our consortium is unified around creating new diagnostic and treatment approaches, with the ultimate purpose to improve and save lives. In addition to our research and clinical interests, the CAR also has two important goals relating to community outreach and education: 1) We disseminate evidence-based knowledge and discoveries on SUDs and related disorders to academic and professional communities as well as the general public (see the “News” tab), and 2) We collaborate with community providers to encourage provider and patient involvement in education, prevention, and clinical research efforts. The CAST additionally functions as an advisory resource promoting the utilization of science in the formulation of policies and the development of consortiums and programs at all levels – locally, statewide, nationally, and worldwide.

Welcome to our site!


Kathryn A. Cunningham, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Addiction Sciences and Therapeutics
Chauncey Leake Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology

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