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Sandra A. Brown, Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor

Sandra A. Brown, Ph.D. is Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry at UC San Diego. Dr. Brown is internationally recognized for her developmentally focused alcohol and drug research. Her research yielded pioneering information on adolescent addiction, relapse among youth, and long-term outcomes of youth who have experienced alcohol and drug problems. She is the past President of Division 50 (Addictions) of the American Psychological Association, is on the executive board of numerous scientific organizations, and has over 35 grants and 350 publications. She is a fellow of multiple divisions of the American Psychological Association, and has received numerous national awards for her research, mentoring and service.  She is involved in addiction prevention and intervention at national and international levels, and helped lead NIAAA’s effort to establish national screening and early intervention guidelines for youth. She currently Co-directs the National Consortium on Alcohol and Neurodevelopment in Adolescence (NCANDA) as well as the Coordinating Center of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study, which is the largest longitudinal study of youth development ever funded by NIH.

Sandra Brown CV Oct 2014 (pdf)

Dr. Brown's research interests are in the area of alcohol and drug abuse across the life span. Her primary foci include models of development and clinical course for substance abuse, psychiatric comorbidity as well as neurocognitive and psychosocial factors influencing transitions into and out of alcohol and drug problems. In particular, Dr. Brown's current work focuses on neurocognitive and neurobehavioral factors integral to the etiology, progression and resolution of substance use and abuse for youth and young adults.

Selective Research Interest

  • Alcohol and drug abuse among youth and high-risk populations, examining etiological factors, developmental trajectories, interventions and outcomes 
  • Neurocognitive consequences of early drug/alcohol involvement and personal features which have implications for intervention and prevention (e.g., concomitant psychopathology, neuromaturation, personality, cognitive factors, coping skills, etc.). 
  • Developmental processes (e.g., role changes, neurocognitive and neuroanatomical development, self-regulation of affect, alcohol-related cognitions, motivational enhancement procedures for abusing youth) and effective intervention strategies for youth 
  • Models of clinical course for substance abuse, psychiatric comorbidity as well as neurocognitive and psychosocial factors influencing transitions out of alcohol and drug problems
  • RA Zucker and SA Brown (Eds), The Oxford Handbook of Adolescent Substance Abuse (2019). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Zhao, Sullivan EV, Honnorat N, Adeli E, Podhajsky S, De Bellis MD, Voyvodic J, Nooner KB, Baker FC, Colrain IM, Tapert SF, Brown SA, Thompson WK, Nagel BJ, Clark DB, Pfefferbaum A, Pohl KM (2021). Association of heavy drinking with deviant fiber tract development in frontal brain systems in adolescents. JAMA Psychiatry Dec 30: e204064. PMCID: PMC7774050
  • Cummins K, Brumback T, Chung T, Moore R, Henthorn T, Eberson S, Lopez A, Sarkissyan T, Nooner K, Brown SA, Tapert SF (2021). Frequent continuous mobile assessment of health behaviors in a multi-year study: acceptability, validity, and engagement with mNCANDA. J Med Internet Res 9(2): e24472. PMCID: PMC7904399
  • Infante MA, Eberson SC, Zhang Y, Brumback T, Brown SA, Colrain IM, Baker FC, Clark DB, De Bellis M, Goldston D, Nagel BJ, Nooner KB, Zhao Q, Pohl KM, Sullivan EV, Pfefferbaum A, Tapert SF, Thompson WK (2021). Adolescent binge drinking is associated with accelerated decline of gray matter volume. Cerebral Cortex 32(12): 2611-2620. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhab368. PMCID: PMC9201595
  • Pelham WE, Tapert SF, Zúñiga ML, Thompson WK, Wade NE, Gonzalez MR, Patel H, Baker FC, Dowling GJ, Van Rinsveld AM, Baskin-Sommers A, Kiss O, & Brown SA (2023). Pandemic-related changes in the prevalence of early adolescent alcohol and drug use, 2020-2021: Data from a multisite cohort study. Journal of Adolescent Health May 4: S1054-139X(23)00150-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2023.02.040. PMCID: PMC10186567

UO1AA021695 (NIH/NIAAA) National Consortium on Alcohol and NeuroDevelopment in Adolescence: Admin (Multiple-PIs: Sandra Brown & Susan Tapert)

U24DA041147 (NIH) ABCD-USA Consortium: Coordinating Center (Multiple-PIs: Terry Jernigan & Sandra Brown)

OT2 HL161847 (NIH) NIH RECOVER SARS-CoV-2 Pediatric Recovery Cohort Post-Acute Sequelae of COVID Study (PeRC-PASC) Phase II (Multiple-PIs: Terry Jernigan, Sandra Brown & Anders Dale)

R44 AA030231 (NIH) Discreet Wearable Device for Continuous Real-Time Monitoring of Alcohol (Co-Investigator with Farshad Tehrani [PI])