Shannon Gourley, PhD

Researcher, Emory National Primate Research Center

Associate Professor
Department of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine


Dr. Gourley and her research team focus on issues of depression and addiction. They aim to understand why adolescent-emergent depression is associated with insensitivity to traditional antidepressants and why exposure to drugs of abuse during adolescence is associated with drug abuse and dependence that persist across the lifespan. Dr. Gourley hypothesizes these adverse outcomes may relate to the manner in which pathological stimuli, such as stressors, social isolation and drugs of abuse, impact the adolescent prefrontal cortex. Across mammalian species, this brain region organizes complex decision-making, reward valuation and inhibitory control, and it also undergoes considerable remodeling and development during adolescence. Dr. Gourley's team uses behavioral, pharmacological, biochemical, genetic and cellular approaches to develop and optimize novel therapeutic interventions for vulnerable adolescent populations. Conversely, her research team also aims to better understand the neurobiological mechanisms of resilience to stressors and drugs of abuse at any age.

Dr. Gourley completed her doctoral and postdoctoral training at Yale University. Her early independent research at Emory was supported by an Emory Egleston Children's Research Center fellowship, and she was named the Katherine Deschner Family NARSAD Investigator for 2012-14. In 2019, she received the Curt Richter Award from the International Society for Psychoneuroendocrinology. This award has been given for more than 35 years to a distinguished line of young investigators in the field of psychoneuroendocrinology.

The Gourley lab is supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, originally as part of the BRAINS (Biobehavioral Research Award for Innovative New Scientists) initiative, as well as the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Dr. Gourley recently received the Basic Science Research Paper of the Year Award from Emory University's Department of Pediatrics. Biological Psychiatry published Gourley's paper, "The PI3-Kinase p110β Isoform Controls Severity of Cocaine-Induced Sequelae and Alters the Striatal Transcriptome" in May 2021.

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