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NIH to Fund Research Into Genetics, Epigenetics of Substance Use Disorders

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institutes of Health announced that it is seeking grant applications for projects that will use functional genetics and genomics to gain insights into the molecular underpinnings of substance use disorders (SUDs).

Recent studies have identified genetic and epigenetic factors that potentially influence SUDs such as genes, gene variants, and non-coding RNAs, the NIH said. But additional research is required before their influence, if any, can be fully understood.

To that end, the agency said that it aims to fund studies that will functionally validate genetic and epigenetic candidates to determine if they have an authentic role in SUDs, as well as research elucidating the molecular pathways and processes modulated by these factors.

Among the research areas of interest to the NIH are studies that use human DNA samples to correlate a gene variant with a particular phenotype; comparisons of wild-type and gene variant functions; efforts to link a genetic or epigenetic factor to a particular aspect of addictive behavior such as drug tolerance or withdrawal; research using established or emerging genetic models; and studies identifying and characterizing regulatory ncRNAs in SUDs.

Also of interest are studies investigating somatic genomic variation and its regulation and function in the nervous system and in response to addictive substances; and the use of functionally validated gene variants, RNAs, or proteins as clinical biomarkers.

Additional details about the funding — which will be made available through the NIH's RO1 and R21 grant mechanisms — can be found here and here.