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Nexus Newsletter

Faculty Profile: Dr. Francesca Filbey

Francesca Filbey, PhD

Dr. Francesca Filbey says she has been interested in how the brain relates to behavior since she was a young child. Now she is putting that interest to work as she researches addiction at the Center for BrainHealth, part of the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

“My interest in studying mechanisms of the brain came when my grandfather had a stroke,” Filbey said. “I was impressed by how his behavior was affected by that kind of injury, and even more impressed that he was able to recover back to normal within six months.”

Filbey initiated her post-graduate program at UT Dallas, earning her master’s degree in applied cognition and neuroscience. After she obtained her PhD in experimental neuropsychology from the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, Dr. Filbey completed her post-doctoral fellowships at the National Institute of Mental Health and the University of Colorado at Boulder. She joined the UT Dallas faculty in 2010.

Filbey's research interests include factors that underlie brain responses which lead to behavior. She also has studied Schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Her main research focus is addiction and how it is heavily influenced by genetic factors. She looks at the mechanisms of reward associated with addiction, to facilitate early detection and intervention.

“Addiction is one of the best models illustrating the brain’s ability to change and adapt,” Filbey said.

“The general goal of my research has always been to look at markers that might put people at risk for problematic drug use, determine the effects of problematic use on the brain, and then find how best to treat the problem using imaging techniques,” she said.

Filbey teaches an undergraduate neuropsychology course and a graduate-level scientific writing course. She currently is collaborating with researchers in Amsterdam to study cultural differences that might affect response to cannabis. She also is part of the largest National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded consortium on marijuana users.


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