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Dr. Nigel Atkinson receives NIH grant to investigate genes involved in alcoholism

Dr. Nigel Atkinson receives NIH grant for his research project entitled “Epigenetic dissection of functional ethanol tolerance and dependence”.

This project seeks to identify a simple and effective way to pan for genomic changes that occur in the alcoholism phenotype. This will be accomplished by investigating genes that show common changes produced by two chemically and metabolically dissimilar alcohols, ethanol and benzyl alcohol.  Using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model system, an animal that has ethanol responses remarkably similar to humans, genes that respond in the same way to both alcohols will be identified.  Candidate alcohol response genes will be tested for a functional role in ethanol tolerance and in withdrawal/dependence symptom. To directly bridge this work to human alcoholism the data will be collaboratively compared to human alcoholic datasets.

The first research publication resulting from this grant was recently published in the Journal of Neurogenetics.

Ghezzi A, Zomeno M, Pietrzykowski AZ, Atkinson NS. 2016. Immediate-early alcohol-responsive miRNA expression in Drosophila. Journal of Neurogenetics. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27845601




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