John Andrews Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology and Psychiatry
Director of the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies
UNC Hospitals – Chapel Hill
Education and Training:
B.S., N.Y. State Regents Scholar, Syracuse University
Ph.D., Pharmacology, Rackham Graduate School, University of Michigan
National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
Dr. Crews’ current research focuses on alcohol-induced increases in brain expression of HMGB1, a cytokine-like protein expressed in neurons that signals through toll-like receptors and other innate immune signaling proteins. Induction and release by alcohol, glutamate and other signals lead to lasting changes in neuronal responses due to neuronal-microglial-astroglial signals in neurocircuitry. These changes occur during adolescent alcohol exposure and contribute to adult neurodegeneration, cortical dysregulation related to loss of executive functions, and enhanced ventral striatal responses that enhance reward-seeking.
Dr. Crews leads the NIAAA-funded UNC Alcohol Research Center as well as a 10-component consortium Neurobiology of Adolescent Drinking in Adulthood (NADIA). The overarching NADIA hypothesis is that models of human underage drinking will impact brain maturation, resulting in persistent changes in adult brain function and structure that relate to lasting adult psychopathology.
Dr. Crews has led the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies (CAS), part of the UNC School of Medicine, since 1995. He has been PI of an NIH-P60 Alcohol Research Center and T32 Post-Doctoral Training grant, both funded for 20 years. The CAS has 9 tenure track, PI-led laboratories, including 5 in Psychiatry, that are the core of a network of more than 100 UNC scientists, physicians and students conducting alcohol research on topics from fetal alcohol syndrome and liver disease to brain pathology and addiction.