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NIH to Fund Substance Use Gene-Environment Studies

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institutes of Health has released three requests for applications to fund new research to uncover the interplay between genetic and environmental factors involved in substance use disorders (SUDs).

The goal of these grants is to build on previous research that has applied genetic epidemiologic and molecular genetic approaches to understand the causes of substance use, abuse, and dependence. Further research is needed that will elucidate the interplay between genetic and environmental factors in the developmental trajectories of SUDs and comorbid conditions. These studies may look into heritability, gene-environment interaction and correlation, and epigenetics, and could result in opportunities for treatment, prevention, gene discovery, and molecular studies.

Funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the grants will support studies that elucidate underlying mechanisms involved in gene-environment interactions, that look into the role of gene-environment interplay in phenotypes that change across the lifecourse, and research that clarifies the role of a range of environmental factors.

These grants include R01 Research Project awards that provide funding for up to five years, R21 Exploratory Research Grant awards that provide up to $275,000 over a two-year period, and R03 Small Grant awards providing up to $100,000 over two years.

These research projects could include a wide range of studies, such as research to understand genetic risk factors and the age of onset of substance use, epigenetic mechanisms to explain gene-environment interaction and the plasticity of phenotypes, and genetic and environmental factors involved in the onset, progression, persistence, withdrawal, and relapse of SUDs.

Researchers also could study the genetic and environmental factors involved in the genesis of SUDs across racial, ethnic, and gender groups, and the genetic and environmental factors that influence drinking behavior in early, mid- and late adolescence. The research also could aim to understand how genetic variability accounts for the different effects of SUDs interventions, or whether effective interventions work through altering gene expression.

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