NIH grant funds research center to find new addiction therapies
For Immediate Release
Sep 14, 2023
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — A new research center at Indiana University will support substance-use-disorder researchers across the nation in their efforts to find new therapies to treat addiction, thanks to a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, which is expected to provide approximately $7 million over five years.
Graduate student Emily Richter works on high-performance liquid chromatography equipment, which is used in the Bioactive Lipid Mediators Core to evaluate changes in bioactive lipids caused by drugs of abuse. Photo by Eric Hanus, Indiana University
The Indiana University Bloomington Center for Cannabis, Cannabinoids and Addiction — which will join just 15 other centers nationally funded through NIDA’s Core Center of Excellence Grants — will expand on IU’s extensive expertise in addiction research.
“Substance use disorder is a very big problem in Indiana and around the world, especially among young people, which poses significant risks to their futures and that of their children,” said Hui-Chen Lu, a principal investigator of the center, director of IU’s Gill Center for Biomolecular Science and professor of psychological and brain sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington. “Together with researchers from across the globe, we will work as a team to bring this crisis more under control and better help individuals who may benefit from treatment in the future.”
IU Bloomington researchers will work within three research cores, supporting the work of other researchers who are addressing unresolved, high-impact questions surrounding substance use disorders. The center will serve as an important resource for researchers who are measuring lipid biomarkers associated with addiction and applying advanced optical imaging methods to learn how addictive substances affect brain anatomy and function.
“Through the center, we will work to innovate lipid mass spectrometry and high-resolution imaging so they can be used to address questions about substance use that cannot be answered by existing techniques,” said Ken Mackie, lead principal investigator of the center, IU Distinguished Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences and the Jack and Linda Gill Chair in the College of Arts and Sciences. “With our decades of experience and the combination of techniques we offer all under one roof, we are confident we can make advancements that ultimately better the lives of people with substance use disorders.”
Principal investigator Hui-Chen Lu works on a multi-photon microscope, which enables neuroscientists to examine neuronal activity of hundreds of neurons simultaneously and correlate these activities to animal behaviors. Photo by Eric Hanus, Indiana University
The center will also have a strong educational component, training scientists in the cutting-edge technologies used at IU Bloomington and introducing more researchers to drug addiction research, particularly from populations historically underrepresented in the field. The Bioactive Lipid Mediators Core will offer eight-week summer courses to students participating in IU Bloomington’s STEM Summer Scholars Institute, and a two-week course on imaging will be offered four times a year through the Multi-Scale Imaging Core.
A pilot grant program, the third core, will provide seed funding to young addiction researchers or those new to the addiction science field. Each year, two or three grants will be awarded to help these investigators as they work with the center to advance their research. Applications will be solicited in the fall.
In addition to Mackie and Lu, other principal investigators include IU’s Heather Bradshaw, Istvan Katona and Norbert Hájos, all researchers in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. Additional collaborators include Mehmet Dalkilic from the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering; Esen Tuna from University Information Technology Services; and Alan Walsh from the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs.
Research reported in this press release was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health under award number P30DA056410.