SANS Keynote speaker- Prof Hamed Ekhtiari

Prof Hamed Ekhtiari will address the SANS virtual symposium on 20 November

How Neuroscience Could Reshape the Future of Addiction Treatment and Prevention


In 2018, 269 million people around the world had used drugs, and over 35 million suffer from substance use disorders (SUDs). However, there is a serious limitation of available treatments that are effective in the long term. A frequently raised question by addiction medicine practitioners around the world is how recent advancements in different fields of brain and cognition studies – from molecular to cognitive neuroscience – can help them improve their daily practice in prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of SUDs. In my talk, I will cover recent advances in two main interventional areas: cognitive training/remediation and brain stimulation, where we identify key challenges and proposed solutions to reshape the future of addiction medicine. Application of neuroscience-informed interventions including cognitive training/remediation and brain stimulation requires clear pathways to design treatments based on multilevel targets, additional evidence from randomized trials and subsequent clinical implementation, including evaluation of cost-effectiveness. I will address these challenges in my talk and propose solutions by promoting international collaboration between researchers and clinicians, developing harmonized protocols and data management systems, and prioritizing multi-site research that focuses on improving clinical outcomes including scientists from South Africa.

Prof Ekhtiari biosketch:

Hamed Ekhtiari, MD, PhD, is an assistant professor and director of Neuroscience-informed Interventions for Addiction Medicine (NIAM) Lab at Laureate Institute for Brain Research (LIBR), Tulsa, OK, USA. Dr. Ekhtiari’s lab at LIBR is focused to reshape the future of addiction medicine using brain imaging (task based and resting state fMRI) in combination with non-invasive brain stimulation technologies and cognitive training. Dr. Ekhtiari is director of the international network of tES/TMS trials for addiction medicine (INTAM). INTAM with over 50 lab members promotes international collaborations to increase research quality and implementation of non-invasive brain stimulation technologies in addiction medicine. Dr. Ekhtiari also directs the brain awareness for recovery initiative (BARI). BARI incorporates neuroscience content, with cartoons and affiliated text in neurocognitive informed psychoeducation and training, targeting different cognitive mechanisms associated with drug addiction and recovery. BARI materials are translated and culturally adopted by scientific authorities in 12 languages in 5 continents so far.