Yale Researchers Receive $1.6 Million NIH Grant to Study the Genetics of Drug Dependence
Yale researchers Joel Gelernter M.D., Robert Malison, M.D., and colleagues have received a $1.6 million grant to conduct an international research-training program in the genetics of drug dependence.
The grant is part of the first International Collaborative Genetics Research Training Program awards that are given by the Fogarty International Center (FIC) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and seven partners. The six new research and training grants will support international collaborations in human genetic sciences.
Gelernter, professor of psychiatry, Malison, associate professor of psychiatry, and colleagues at the Yale School of Medicine, will collaborate with the Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. The Thai researchers will receive short- and long-term fellowships to train in the United States. The project will also support one-month field exchange training rotations in Thailand for U.S. trainees.
“Substance dependence is a huge problem in Thailand now-historically it’s often been a serious problem, but the current epidemic is really unprecedented,” said Gelernter. “We’re very enthusiastic about this project, and appreciate the support from Fogarty and NIDA that will enable us to carry it out,” Gelernter said that genetic factors are known to be important in determining risk for various kinds of substance dependence. The purpose of the project is to train Thai investigators in the genetics of substance dependence, to help build up research capacity to address this problem.
“Yale has superb depth in its substance dependence research faculty, and the U.S. participants-Drs. Malison, Cubells, Lappalainen, Mahoney, Picciotto, Potenza, Rounsaville, and Zhao-will be able to provide Thai trainees with exposure to highest- level research in a range of areas of focus, including ethical issues, transgenics, gene mapping, statistical genetics and other areas,” he said.
The combined financial commitment from FIC and its NIH partners is approximately $2.3 million for the first year of these five-year awards. Total support will be approximately $11.5 million over the next five years.
FIC led the development of the International Collaborative Genetics Research Training Program in close collaboration with six NIH institutes and the World Health Organization. In addition to FIC, the NIH partners are the National Human Genome Research Institute, and the National Institutes of Mental Health, Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Aging, Drug Abuse and Environmental Health Sciences.
“The International Collaborative Genetics Research Training Program will help reduce health disparities between developed and developing countries through the use of genetic sciences,” said FIC Director Gerald T. Keusch, M.D., on behalf of the partners. “Through the program’s partnerships, we will advance human genetics research while enhancing the limited but growing technical capacity in genetic science in developing regions of the world.”
The projects will provide educational opportunities at the Master’s, Ph.D. and post-doctoral levels and will contribute to the capacity of developing country scientists and institutions to conduct human genetics research relevant to the health needs of developing countries. Scientists and health professionals from low- and middle-income countries were consulted at all stages of the program’s development. Keusch noted, “Our consultation with scientists from the developing world was crucial in helping us understand where the needs are most critical as we consider the nexus between genetic technology and public health.”
FIC led the development of the program as part of its ongoing approach to supporting and promoting partnerships among research institutions in developed and developing countries.