Stephen J. Kohut, PhD

Stephen J. Kohut, PhD

McLean Hospital Title
  • Director, Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroimaging

Harvard Medical School Title
  • Assistant Professor of Psychiatry


Stephen J. Kohut, PhD, focuses his research primarily on two main interacting lines of investigation: understanding how alterations in underlying neurobiology alter behavioral responses to drugs, especially stimulants and opioids, and medications discovery for drug abuse and addiction. Dr. Kohut’s current research, funded by several awards from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, combines behavioral pharmacology with cutting-edge neuroimaging methodologies to understand the neural consequences of drug-taking behavior and the extent to which they can be mitigated by behavioral and pharmacological interventions.

In addition to his research work, Dr. Kohut serves on the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) and Laboratory Safety Sub-Committee (LSSC) at McLean Hospital, as well as the Program Committees for the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) and the Behavior, Biology, and Chemistry: Translational Research in Addiction conference.

Research Focus:

Dr. Kohut’s Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroimaging uses principles of behavioral pharmacology and magnetic resonance imaging to develop novel medications for managing drug abuse and addiction. Dr. Kohut’s group works toward elucidating the role of monoamines, particularly serotonin and norepinephrine, in the behavioral effects of drugs of abuse. He uses this information to develop novel monoaminergic compounds as candidate medications for drug abuse and addiction.

In recent years, Dr. Kohut has incorporated cutting-edge neuroimaging methodologies to elucidate neural correlates of substance misuse related behaviors. He also uses these techniques to understand how candidate medications may alter key neural circuits involved in both drug-maintained (i.e., self-administration) and relapse-related (i.e., priming-induced reinstatement) behavior.

Dr. Kohut is a member of the training faculty of the McLean Imaging Center’s NIDA-funded T32 program. He mentors and trains post-doctoral fellows and laboratory research assistants in methods of behavioral pharmacology, preclinical neuroimaging, and addiction research. In addition, he mentors a post-doctoral fellow and is co-mentoring a junior faculty member in the area of preclinical neuroimaging. Individuals he has mentored have won several research awards including the Harvard Medical School Livingston Award, the Dolores Shockley Award from the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET), the William L. Woolverton Award from the International Study Group Investigating Drugs as Reinforcers (ISGIDAR), and an Alkermes Pathway to Independence Award.

Dr. Kohut has published over 30 peer-reviewed papers, review articles, and book chapters. He is the recipient of two prestigious early career research awards—the 2019 Maharaj Ticku Memorial Travel Fellowship for New Investigators from the Behavior, Biology, and Chemistry: Translational Research in Addiction conference and the 2019 Joseph Cochin Young Investigator Award from the College on Problems of Drug Dependence.

  • Lei Cao, MS, Research Assistant
  • Erin Conley, Research Assistant
  • Jack Bergman, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Bruce Blough, PhD, Research Triangle Institute
  • Raymond Booth, PhD, Center for Drug Discovery, Northeastern University
  • Blaise Frederick, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Brian Kangas, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Scott E. Lukas, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Joseph B. Mandeville, PhD, Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, MGH
  • Tom Prisinzano, PhD, University of Kentucky
  • Michael L. Rohan, PhD, Laureate Institute for Brain Research
  • Sarah L. Withey, PhD, University of Queensland
Selected Publications:

Kohut SJ, Jacobs DS, Rothman RB, Partilla JS, Bergman J, Blough BE. Cocaine-like discriminative stimulus effects of “norepinephrine-preferring” monoamine releasers: time course and interaction studies in rhesus monkeys. Psychopharmacology 2017;234:3455-3465.

Kohut SJ, Bergman J. Lorcaserin decreases the reinforcing effects of heroin, but not food, in rhesus monkeys. European Journal of Pharmacology 2018;840:28-32.

Bardo MT, Denehy ED, Hammerslag LR, Dwoskin LP, Blough BE, Landavazo A, Bergman J, Kohut SJ. Effects of methamphetamine isomers on d-methamphetamine self-administration and food-maintained responding in male rats. Psychopharmacology, 2019;236 (12), 3557-3565.

PubMed search for Dr. Kohut

Education & Training

  • 2003 BA in Psychology, LaSalle University
  • 2005 MS in Clinical Psychology, Loyola College Maryland
  • 2009 PhD in Behavior, Cognition, and Neuroscience, American University
  • 2010-2011 Intramural Research Training Award Fellowship, Medications Discovery Research Branch, Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse


Phone: 617.855.2167
Office Address: Belmont campus - Oaks Building