Stephen L. Dewey, PhD

Professor, Feinstein Center for Neuroscience,
The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research

Professor, Center for Behavioral and Molecular Imaging,
The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research

Professor of Molecular Medicine, Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell

Phone: (516) 562-2357

Research Focus

The Laboratory for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroimaging has taken on the war on drugs in a unique way. Stephen Dewey, PhD, has put virtually every drug of abuse to the test on the brain to tell the story of what these substances do to brain function and structure. The findings have led to a deep understanding of how the brain can so easily and permanently be altered by chronic exposure to drugs and suggests that even occasional use can permanently alter the inner workings of the brain.

The lab has scanned brains exposed to caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, opiates, heroin and chemical solvents and have shown in detail what happens and under what circumstances the changes can become life-long. The lab also studies the brain’s behavioral signatures in response to drug exposure.  More recently, Dr. Dewey has focused on the development of a novel treatment for drug abuse. This treatment reduces cravings for drugs of abuse and has been shown to be effective in a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled clinical trial in cocaine-dependent subjects. A medicine called vigabatrin, which was developed as an anti-epilepsy drug, has been tested for its ability to block drug use. Pilot studies in both cocaine and methamphetamine abusers are now demonstrating efficacy as well as an ability to lower the motivation to seek out these drugs. Larger drug trials are now underway.

Dr. Dewey also studies the effects of drug exposure during development – from adolescence through to adulthood.


Faireleigh Dickinson University
Degree: BS
Field of Study: Biology

University of Iowa
Degree: PhD
Field of Study: Anatomy

Lab Members

Sandy Scherrer
Manager, Preclinical PET Facility

Stergiani (Stella) Agorastos
Research Assistant

Joseph Carrion

Awards & Honors

1983-1985 Pre-doctoral Fellowship, National Institute of Mental Health
1985 Young Investigators Travel Award, Research Society on Alcoholism
1993-1994 NARSAD Established Investigator Award, “PET investigations of the effects of chronic neuroleptic treatment on neurotransmitter activity and responsiveness.”
1998 Distinguished Research and Development Award, (BNL’s highest scientific and research award) BNL
1999 Man of the Year in Science, The Village Times
2000 Brookhaven Award (Distinguished Effort in Community Service)
2001 ER100 Award, United States Department of Energy’s 100 most innovative science and technology initiatives over the past century
2005 Officer John Jantzen Memorial Award for Prevention, Suffolk Coalition to Prevent Alcohol and Drug Dependencies, Inc.
2006 Scientist of the Year, Long Island Science Museum, Riverhead, NY
2006 Outstanding Mentor, Office of Science, Undergraduate Research Programs, Department of Energy
2007-2012 – Career Development Award, NIDA, K02
2009 Man of the Year in Education, The Village Times

  1. Pan,Y Gerasimov MR, Kvist T, Wellendorph P, Madsen KK,  Schousboe A, Chebib M, Bräuner-Osborne H, Schiffer WK, Brodie JD, Dewey SL, and Silverman RB.  (2010) “(1S,3S)-3-Amino-4-difluoromethylenyl-1-cyclopentanoic Acid, a Highly Potent ?-Aminobutyric Acid Aminotransferase Inhibitor for the Treatment of Cocaine Addiction.” Science. (submitted)
  2. Schiffer WK, Lee DE, Carrion J, Benveniste H and Dewey SL.  (2010) “Brain distribution of 11C-toluene predicts structural changes in an adolescent model of toluene abuse.” Synapse. (in press)
  3. Carrion J, Patel V, Liebling NB, Dewey SL and Schiffer WK.  (2009) “Imaging the conditioned behavioral effects of methamphetamine in rodents.”  Brain Imaging & Behavior.  3(2):176-190.
  4. Schiffer WK, Liebling CNB, Reiszel C, Hooker JM, Brodie JD and Dewey SL. (2009) “Imaging the dopaminergic response to cocaine and cocaine-conditioned cues in freely moving animals.”  J Neurosci.29(19):6176-85.
  5. De Marco A, Dalal RM, Kahendra M, Mullapudi U, Pai J, Hammel C, Liebling CNB, Patel V, Brodie J, Schiffer WK, Dewey SL and Aquilina SD. (2009) “Racemic gamma vinyl-GABA (R,S-GVG) blocks methamphetamine-triggered reinstatement of conditioned place preference.”  Synapse. 63(2):87-94.
  6. De Marco A, Dalal RM, Kahendra M, Mullapudi U, Pai J, Hammel C, Liebling CNB, Patel V, Brodie J, Schiffer WK, Dewey SL and Aquilina SD. (2008) “Subchronic racemic gamma vinyl-GABA produces weight loss in sprague dawley and zucker fatty rats.”  Synapse. 62(11):870-872.
  7. Patel VD, Lee DE, Alexoff DL, Dewey SL and Schiffer WK. (2008) “Imaging dopamine release with Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and 11C-raclopride in freely moving animals.” Neuroimage. 41:1051-1066.
  8. Fowler JS, Kroll C, Ferrieri R, Alexoff D, Logan J, Dewey SL, Schiffer W, Schlyer D, Carter P, King P, Shea C, Xu Y, Muench L, Benveniste H, Vaska P, Volkow ND.  (2007) “PET Studies of d-Methamphetamine Pharmacokinetics in Primates: Comparison with l-Methamphetamine and (-)-Cocaine.” J Nucl Med. 48(10):1724-32.
  9. Schiffer WK, Liebling CNB, Patel V, Dewey SL (2007) “Targeting the treatment of drug abuse with molecular imaging.”  Nucl Med Biol. 34(7):833-47.
  10. Mirrione MM, Schiffer WK, Dewey SL and Tsirka, S (2007) “Imaging brain-behavior relationships in genetically modified mice: Role of tissue plasminogen activator in a mouse model of temporal lobe epilepsy.” NeuroImage. 38(1):34-42.

View more at PubMed