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Transcriptional Mechanisms of Drug Addiction
To improve our understanding of the biological basis of addiction
a NIDA Program Project Grant

About the Program

Addiction remains one of the world’s greatest public health problems, yet its pathophysiology remains incompletely understood and available treatments for addictions to various drugs of abuse are inadequately effective for most people. We believe that the most effective way of eventually developing definitive treatments and cures for addiction rests in part in a better understanding of its underlying neurobiology. Read more about drug addiction.

The objective of this Program Project Grant (PPG) is to fundamentally advance our understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie stimulant and opi addiction. We focus on the brain's reward regions, in particular, the nucleus accumbens (NAc). We utilize a wide range of cutting-edge technologies to explicate the molecular, cellular, and circuit basis of addiction, with a focus on sophisticated animal models of addiction. Importantly, our PPG has a strong translational component in that we validate key findings from animal models in homologous brain regions of addicted humans examined postmortem. In turn, new insight from studies of human brain feeds back and informs our animal research to explore the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms involved. 

The PPG is composed of two Scientific Cores and four Projects:

Gene and Chromatin Analysis Core (PI, Li Shen, Mount Sinai)
Animal Models Core (PI, Vanna Zachariou, Mount Sinai)
Project 1: Novel Transcription Factors in Stimulant and Opioid Addiction (PI, Eric Nestler)
Project 2: Role for Circular RNAs in Compulsive Cocaine and Opioid Intake (PI, Paul Kenny)
Project 3: Role of Microglia in Cocaine and Opioid Actions (PI, Anne Schaefer)
Project 4: Regulation of Gene Enhancers in Human Heroin Use (PI, Yasmin Hurd)

Icahn School of Medicine