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NIDA Awards Geisinger $973K to Study Genomics of Opioid Use Disorder

NEW YORK — A research team at Geisinger has been awarded nearly $1 million to study links between genomics and opioid use disorder, the health system said Monday.

The National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is funding the project at Danville, Pennsylvania-based Geisinger with $973,000.

Researchers led by Vanessa Troiani, an investigator at Geisinger's Autism and Developmental Medicine Institute, will study the association between genomics and opioid use disorder using data from Geisinger's MyCode Community Health Initiative and Vanderbilt University's BioVU, two biobanks of genetic and health information. Researchers will develop profiles based on patient data, including prescription information and clinical diagnoses, and analyze them to pinpoint genes associated with risk of opioid use disorder.

The study is part of the Integrative Omics Center for Accelerating Neurobiological Understanding of Opioid Addiction (ICAN), a research network led by RTI International and funded by NIDA. Findings from the study will be combined with other research with a goal of identifying gene networks that contribute to the neurobiology of opioid use disorder.

While research has suggested that substance use disorders can be hereditary, it's unknown whether specific genes contribute to the risk of opioid use disorder.

"To date, electronic health record data has not been widely used for studying the genetics of substance use disorders or even psychiatric disorders, more generally," Troiani said in a statement. "Data from existing health system records with large biobanks offer a powerful opportunity to improve our understanding of the genetic factors that may increase risk for developing opioid addiction."

Geisinger has been awarded multiple NIH grants to fund studies based on its MyCode Community Health Initiative, a DNA sequencing and biobanking program that launched in 2007 to fuel precision medicine research. More than 275,000 patients have signed up to participate in MyCode to date, according to Geisinger's website.