MUSC researcher receives governor’s award for excellence in science

Heather Woolwine

April 18, 2012

MUSC researcher receives governor’s award for excellence in science

Dr. Peter Kalivas honored for strides made in drug and alcohol research

CHARLESTON -- Peter Kalivas, PhD, professor and co-chair of the Department of Neurosciences, received the South Carolina Governor’s Award for Excellence in Scientific Research while attending the S.C. Academy of Science Annual Meeting on April 14. Kalivas was recognized for his scientific discoveries regarding drug addiction and serving as an academic leader and department chair in the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) College of Medicine for more than a decade. Kalivas’ work contributed to a significant rise in national stature as a leading medical research institution.

“Peter is highly deserving of this award, and we are fortunate to have a scientist of his caliber focused on translating basic science discoveries into clinical interventions for drug addiction, which is a significant problem for South Carolina and the nation as a whole,” said MUSC College of Medicine Dean Etta Pisano, M.D. “In large part due to Dr. Kalivas’ leadership during the last decade, South Carolina now harbors one of the top-tier addiction and neuroscience research organizations in the country.”

Drug addiction in South Carolina is estimated to cost the state $2.5 billion a year in medical treatment, judicial system/incarceration and lost work hours, and in 2005 addiction was directly responsible for the death of 21,932 South Carolinians.

Kalivas and a team of researchers at MUSC receive approximately $15 million in research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) each year to make basic scientific discoveries and translate these findings into clinical trials for addicts. For example, his discovery of the role played by glutamate in addiction has led to testing new treatments in cigarette, marijuana, cocaine, and soon in alcohol addicted citizens of South Carolina.

Kalivas received his PhD in pharmacology from the University of Washington in 1980 and completed postdoctoral studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1982. Following faculty appointments at Louisiana State University Medical Center and Washington State University, where he served as Director of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program, he joined the faculty at the Medical University of South Carolina in 1998 as professor and chair of the Department of Physiology and Neuroscience. His publication record reflects 293 peer-reviewed papers, serves on many editorial boards and has received numerous honors and awards throughout his career. He also holds a patent, with another pending patent.

About MUSC

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, The Medical University of South Carolina is the oldest medical school in the South. Today, MUSC continues the tradition of excellence in education, research, and patient care. MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and residents, and has nearly 13,000 employees, including approximately 1,500 faculty members. As the largest non-federal employer in Charleston, the university and its affiliates have collective annual budgets in excess of $1.7 billion. MUSC operates a 700-bed medical center, which includes a nationally recognized Children's Hospital, the Ashley River Tower (cardiovascular, digestive disease, and surgical oncology), and a leading Institute of Psychiatry. For more information on academic information or clinical services, visit For more information on hospital patient services,