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Irina Esterlis, PhD


About Us

This section is about our Mission, Vision, Staff, & Press Room

This section is about our Mission, Vision, Staff, and Press Room

Irina Esterlis, PhD

Irina Esterlis, PhD

Director Molecular Imaging Program

Clinical Neurosciences Division

See staff directory for contact information.

Academic Appointment

  • Yale University, School of Medicine, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Associate Director Cognitive Neuroscience Unit


  • University of Connecticut, Clinical Neuropsychology, Ph.D., 2005
  • University of Connecticut, Clinical Psychology, MA, 2003
  • State University of New York at Buffalo, Psychology, BA, 1999
  • State University of New York at Buffalo, Studio Art, BA, 1999

Expertise and Interests

  • Molecular imaging of psychiatric and comorbid tobacco disorders with PET brain imaging
  • Neuropsychology
  • Administration of extrinsic agents to study mood disorders and nicotine dependence
  • Neuroimaging
  • Cognitive assessments

Membership in Professional Societies

  • Member International Neuropsychological Society
  • Member/Reviewer Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco
  • Member Society for Biological Psychiatry

Awards and Honors

  • ACNP Young Investigator Travel Award
  • NIDA Women & Sex/Gender Junior Investigator Travel Award
  • ICANA Young Investigator Travel Award
  • CPDD Director's Travel Award

Selected Publications

Esterlis, I., Hannestad, J. O., Perkins, E., Bois, F., D'Souza, D. C., Tyndale, R.F., Seibyl, J. P., Hatsukami, D. M., Cosgrove, K. P., & O'Malley, S. S. (2013). Effect of a nicotine vaccine on nicotine binding to β2*-nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in vivo in human tobacco smokers. American Journal of Psychiatry, 170, 99-407. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2012.12060793

Esterlis, I., Hannestad, J.O., Bois, F., Sewell, R.A., Tyndale, R.F., Seibyl, J.P., Picciotto, M.R., Laruelle, M., Carson, R.E., Cosgrove, K.P. (2013). Imaging changes in synaptic acetylcholine availability in living human subjects. The Journal of Nuclear Medicine, 54(1), 78-82.

Hannestad, J.O., Cosgrove, K.P., DellaGioia, N., Perkins, E., Bois, F., Bhagwagar, Z., Seibyl, J. P., McClure-Begley, T.D., Picciotto, M. R., Esterlis, I. (2013). Changes in the cholinergic system between bipolar depression and euthymia as measured with [123I]5-IA SPECT. Biological Psychiatry, 74, 768-76. PMCID in process.

Esterlis, I., Ranganathan, M., Bois, F., Pittman, B., Picciotto, M. R., Shearer, L., Anticevic, A., Carlson, J., Niciu, M.J., Cosgrove, K.P., D'Souza, D.C.. In Vivo evidence for β2*-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit upregulation in smokers as compared with nonsmokers with schizophrenia. Biological Psychiatry. Epub ahead of print.

Saricicek, A., Esterlis, I., Maloney, K. H., Mineur, Y. S., Ruf, B. M., Muralidharan, A., Chen, J. I., Cosgrove, K. P., Kerestes, R., Ghose, S., Tamminga, C. A., Pittman, B., Bois, F., Tamagnan, G., Seibyl, J., Picciotto, M. R., Staley, J. K., Bhagwagar, Z. (2012). Persistent β2*-Nicotinic acetylcholinergic receptor dysfunction in major depressive disorder. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 169, 851-859. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2012.11101546

Members of the press interested in contacting this staff member to schedule an interview should reach out to the Division contact for the press.

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