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NIH to Commit $7.5M for Alcoholism Risk Genetics Project

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism plans to use $7.5 million this fiscal year to fund research into the genetic and biological basis of alcoholism, with the aim of identifying better and more personalized ways to treat the disorder.

The funding will provide a cooperative agreement to investigators who are currently funded under an existing, long-term NIAAA-supported project, the Collaborative Study of the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA), the National Institutes of Health said on Friday.

The ultimate goal of the COGA program, a multi-site, multidisciplinary effort which launched 25 years ago, is to identify genes involved in alcohol dependence and then to understand how these genes have functional influences on expression at the molecular and cellular level.

Scientists will use this new funding to pursue several goals, including identifying genetic variants that affect susceptibility to alcohol dependence; determining the molecular and functional mechanisms of those variants; identifying and characterizing the mixtures of genetic and environmental interactions that could lead to alcoholism; and performing prospective studies of groups that are relevant to the COGA program.

Investigators receiving the funding may pursue a range of research questions and approaches within the main goals of the program, such as seeking to advance knowledge about complex phenotypes and alcohol and treatment-related genes and variants; using an array of genomic technologies such as genome sequencing and genotyping to identify more genes involved in alcoholism; exploring the potential mechanism of action of important genes by studying gene expression, splicing, and DNA methylation, among others; and examining the effects of genes and environmental influences on clinical and neurophysiological phenotypes that are related to alcoholism risk.