The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Yale School of Medicine $23.4 million to study the interactive effects of stress and self-control on tobacco smoking, excessive drinking, and overeating, it was announced today.
Yale was one of nine institutions from among 100 applicants to receive the five-year grant from NIH's Roadmap for Medical Research initiative. The grant is intended to integrate aspects of different disciplines to address health challenges that have been resistant to traditional approaches.
NIH Director Elias Zerhouni, M.D., said the idea is to transform the way research is conducted. "These programs are designed to encourage and enable change in academic research culture to make interdisciplinary research easier to conduct for scientists who wish to collaborate in unconventional ways," he said.
Yale School of Medicine Dean Robert Alpern said: "I'm delighted that Yale investigators have competed successfully once again for a major NIH Roadmap award. Yale scientists have a long and distinguished record of discovery in fields that relate to stress, self-control, and substance abuse, including psychiatry, neurobiology, imaging science, pharmacology, and psychology. These resources—and the structure for cross-disciplinary research that will result from the award—will greatly accelerate the pace of discovery and are very likely to change the way we think about and treat addictive behavior."
Yale's consortium is headed by Rajita Sinha, professor of psychiatry. She said key factors in Yale's winning the grant was the medical school's experience in organizing large scientific programs and centers, as well as the number of senior level scientists already engaged in the related research. "A key aspect of having these established research programs are the training opportunities that this grant will make available to junior scientists," Sinha said.
The consortium will be based at the newly established Yale Stress Center and will involve 60 scientists from Yale as well as two collaborating institutions, the University of California at Irvine and Florida State University. There are 10 different research projects that look primarily at stress and self-control mechanisms that perpetuate and maintain the use and overuse of tobacco, alcohol, and unhealthy foods.
The goal, Sinha said, is to develop new pharmacological and/or behavioral interventions to prevent and treat the compulsion and loss of control that accompanies tobacco smoking, alcohol abuse and overeating rich and highly palatable food. "We also want to map out stress and environmental factors and biological and physiological changes that result in individual maladaptive behaviors," she said.
This is the second major NIH Roadmap for Medical Research grant that Yale School of Medicine received from NIH. In October 2006, Yale was awarded a $57.3 million Clinical and Translational Science Award aimed at transforming how biomedical researchers move laboratory discoveries into human studies, enabling faster and more efficient development of new therapies.
Source: YALE University