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NIH to Provide Grants for Addiction Genomics Research

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institute on Drug Abuse has started a new grant program to fund research into the genetics and underlying molecular pathways involved in drug addiction.

The "Functional Genetics, Epigenetics, and Non-coding RNAs in Drug Addiction" program will fund three types of grants to enable scientists to use genetic and genomic data that has already been developed to understand addiction at a deeper level and in greater detail.

Under the program, NIDA will fund basic functional genomic research in two broad areas: functional validation studies to determine which candidate genes, variants, epigenetic, and non-coding RNA features have an authentic role in addiction; and research to elucidate the molecular pathways and processes that are modulated by candidate genes and variants.

The three grant mechanisms NIDA plans to use include R01 grants that will provide up to $500,000 per year, R21 grants that will provide up to $275,000 over two years, and R03 grants that will give as much as $100,000 over two years.

Applicants may propose research that varies greatly in breadth and depth, such as studying a single genetic or epigenetic variant in detail, or testing several hundred gene variants rapidly.

The research areas NIDA will fund may range widely, including functional validation studies that use human DNA to correlate a gene variant with a phenotype; studying established genetic models such as drosophila or zebrafish to examine epigenetic or genetic variant function or RNA knockdown; studies that seek to ascribe a functional role to an epigenetic or genetic variant in relation to a particular addictive behavior, such as tolerance, craving, or withdrawal; mining bioinformatic resources to generate hypotheses concerning the function of candidate genes and groups of genes; studies of how epigenetic or genetic variants affect brain patterning, plasticity, development, or environmental interaction; studies that use a variety of methods to identify causative genes or variants; and studies that identify non-coding RNAs that are relevant to neuroscience and addictive processes as well as to drug abuse-related function in genes, among others.

NIDA is encouraging investigators who propose high-risk/high-reward research to apply for the R21 grants, and those working on small research projects that can be completed in a short period of time are encouraged to seek the R03 grants. Researchers who have planned discrete projects with substantial preliminary data available should use the R01 mechanism, which will support studies for up to five years.

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