Dr. Francesca Filbey
Associate Professor and Program Head, Neuroscience PhD
Bert Moore Chair in BrainHealth
Filbey is one of the leading researchers in the area of cognitive neuroscience of addiction, utilizing neuroimaging tools to study the reward system of the brain. This area of the brain typically is targeted by substances of abuse and is crucial for survival, evolving specifically to sustain life.
Using multimodal imaging techniques, Filbey’s research focuses on identifying the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie reward-seeking behavior with the goal of discovering biomarkers as well as targets for intervention.
“Our studies have shown heightened neural sensitivity to rewarding stimuli in those with substance use disorders. This heightened sensitivity to rewards is compounded by diminished executive control, and is related to drug-seeking behavior,” Filbey said. “By examining the brain, we can identify the mechanisms that increase one’s sensitivity to the effects of potent stimuli. In turn, we can determine how interventions can be effective.
“My hope is that my work will enable individuals to make more informed decisions regarding their substance use, and also inform treatment and prevention strategies, as well as guide policy,” she said.
Filbey is at the forefront of research on how marijuana and drugs of abuse affect the brain, including the first neurobiological characterization of cannabis cue-elicited craving. Her work has been cited in numerous academic publications, including JAMA Psychiatry and PNAS as well as international news outlets, including Time, Forbes, Bloomberg, WebMD, Daily Mail, The Washington Post and The Dallas Morning News.
In addition to her research and teaching activities, Filbey serves as head of the cognitive neuroscience program in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
Before joining UT Dallas, Filbey worked as an assistant professor at the University of New Mexico. She received her bachelor’s degree from UT Arlington, her master’s degree from UT Dallas and her PhD from King’s College London, United Kingdom. She completed her postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health.
Created by the UT Dallas Center for BrainHealth, the Bert Moore Chair in BrainHealth will support the chairholder’s research activities in clinical brain science. Dr. Bert Moore was the dean of the UT Dallas School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS) for 26 years. Under Moore’s leadership, the school’s enrollment grew from 387 to 2,427, the number of faculty members more than doubled and the number of degree programs increased from five to 13.
Filbey is at the forefront of research on how marijuana and drugs of abuse affect the brain. Her work has been cited in numerous academic publications and international news outlets.
“To be awarded a chair with Bert Moore’s name is an honor and privilege. Bert Moore recruited me to UT Dallas. He was such a great advocate for young faculty. Holding the Bert Moore Chair will remind me of his boundless support and will drive me to contribute toward his legacy of transformative research in BBS and UT Dallas.”