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Christopher Cowan PhD

Christopher W. Cowan PhD

Chair, Department of Neuroscience

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  • Professor
  • College of Medicine
  • Neuroscience
Academic Focus
  • activity-dependent synapse development and autism spectrum disorders
  • epigenetic mechanisms in substance use disorder
  • neural mechanisms of mood-related disorders
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Dr. Chris Cowan is Professor and Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston, and he holds the SmartState Endowed Chair in Brain Imaging. Dr. Cowan is also the Director of the NIH-funded Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) in Neurodevelopment and Its Disorders (CNDD), the Scientific Director of the NIDA-funded Charleston Opioid Center on Addiction (COCA), and he is co-founder of NeuroEpigenix, a company advancing a novel therapeutic treatment for alcohol use disorder. Dr. Cowan earned his BA from Wesleyan University (CT) and his PhD in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology from Baylor College of Medicine. He completed his postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital in the area of molecular neurobiology. Prior to joining MUSC in 2016, Dr. Cowan was an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at UT Southwestern Medical School and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital. Dr. Cowan’s NIH-funded research focuses on molecular mechanisms of developmental brain wiring, syndromic forms of autism spectrum disorder, and epigenetic mechanisms underlying relapse and drug-cue reactivity in substance use disorders. His preclinical research lab utilizes a multidisciplinary approach to study these disorders, including genomics, cell and molecular biology, biochemistry, electrophysiology, complex behavioral analyses, and therapeutic development.