Associate Director for Scientific Programs
Yerkes National Primate Research Center
Neuropharmacology and Neurologic Diseases, Yerkes
Yerkes Imaging Center
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Leonard Howell, PhD, is an expert in nonhuman primate models of drug addiction. His interests range from basic neurobiology of the central nervous system to medication development for treatment of cocaine addiction in humans.
As Yerkes' Associate Director for Scientific Programs, Howell works with Yerkes’ director Paul Johnson, MD, and the center’s leadership team to help guide the future directions of the center’s scientific research programs, establish scientific priorities and enhance support for Yerkes research.
Howell's research program focuses on the neuropharmacology of abused stimulants and includes basic neurobiological studies of drug mechanisms as well as medications development to treat stimulant abuse. The program is translational in its focus and bridges preclinical, nonhuman primate models with therapeutic applications in humans. Additional interests include the long-term consequences of chronic stimulant use on behavior and brain function. The long-range goal is to develop a unique, multidisciplinary research program in substance abuse that effectively integrates behavior, neurochemistry and functional brain imaging in nonhuman primates. To acknowledge Dr. Howell’s leadership and the promise his research offers, the National Institute on Drug Addiction (NIDA) recognized him in 2006 with a MERIT (Method to Extend Research in Time) Award, which provides long-term support for researchers whose competence and productivity are considered distinctly superior. He is also the recipient of a Senior Research Scientist and Mentorship Award (K05) from NIDA.
As Chief of the Division of Neuropharmacology and Neurologic Disease, Dr. Howell oversees the administrative functions of the division. This entails oversight of the administrative staff, approving grant submissions by division faculty and trainees, ensuring appropriate allocation of division resources and mentoring junior faculty. Dr. Howell is involved in reporting division research activities to the National Institutes of Health Office of Research Infrastructure Programs and preparing progress and plan descriptions of division research activities for the Yerkes Research Center’s base grant renewal.
In his role as the Imaging Center director, Howell provides oversight of research projects to study non-invasively the living brain to better answer questions focused on neurophysiology, neuroscience, neurology and neurodegenerative diseases. The Imaging Center employs the latest generation of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) equipment to perform novel basic studies in nonhuman primates and rodents, and translational studies to integrate new projects into clinical research applications.
Dr. Howell is a member of national and international committees, including the executive committee of the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) , and he holds memberships in numerous professional organizations, including the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) and the Society for Neuroscience (SfN). He is also a fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA) and the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD).
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