Meet Peter Thanos

Peter Thanos traces his interest in dopamine back to a psychology class on the brain and behavior, which he took while an undergraduate at Queen’s University in Canada. Intrigued by the relationship between brain chemistry and behavior, he volunteered to work in the lab with his professor and got hooked on research.

Peter Thanos

As he continued his studies, he became aware of the groundbreaking research linking dopamine with addiction going on at Brookhaven Lab using positron emission tomography (PET) by Nora Volkow, Gene-Jack Wang, and Joanna Fowler. After completing his Ph.D. at Eastern Virginia Medical School, he went to Stony Brook University to work with researchers who, in collaboration with the Brookhaven neuroimaging group, were beginning to develop the new microPET technology for small-animal studies. He joined the Lab as a neuroscientist in 1999.

As a member of the Lab's Center for Translational Neuroimaging at BNL and NIAAA Laboratory of Neuroimaging, he has been instrumental in assessing and using microPET in addiction research. Thanos’ Behavioral Neuropharmacology Lab has conducted proof-of-principle experiments to demonstrate microPETs usefulness as a research tool to complement a variety of different behavioral studies in rodents.

He’s also made a point of extending the research opportunity he had as a student to three or four undergraduate students each semester — and sometimes more in the summer. “Even if students have had no prior research experience,” he says, “they can produce great work. The key is to find the students who are motivated and interested.” With many of these students going on to medical school, graduate school, dental and veterinary schools, it’s clear that Thanos’ ability to spot and spark that motivation pays off for the students as well as their mentor.

When not at the lab, Peter enjoys spending time with his wife, Renie, and daughter Kiki. With a wink, Thanos says Kiki has already expressed interest in doing a pre-school science project in a few years!