My research's primary focus is on genetic and environmental influences on addiction, especially on substance use and abuse in adolescence and early adulthood. I use a variety of research designs in this effort, including genetic association studies as well as longitudinal twin and adoption designs. I think there is very significant value in integrating research from high-powered genetic association meta-analyses, as well as richly phenotyped longitudinal cohorts. It is also critical that addiction researchers continue to refine our phenotypes, and genetic association studies using biomarkers will be important to characterize genetic and environmental mechanisms of etiology. In the pursuit of biologically refined and informed measures we cannot, however, lose site of the importance of clinical phenotypes like addiction and dependence.
Currently, I spend much of my time working on several related projects.
- A whole genome sequencing study of ~1,800 individuals from the Minnesota Center for Twin and Family Research, with emphasis on finding rare variants associated with addiction behaviors. This work is done with Bill Iacono and Matt McGue at the University of Minnesota, as well as Goncalo Abecasis at Michigan (along with many other collaborators).
- GWAS & Sequencing Consortium of Alcohol and Nicotine use (GSCAN). A large-scale genetic association meta-analysis of addictive behavior.
- I am involved in a genetic association meta-analysis project called the GWAS & Sequencing Consortium of Alcohol and Nicotine use (GSCAN for short). For more information see the study website at http://gscan.sph.umich.edu.
- With Brian Hicks, Dept of Psychiatry at UMich, I work with a meta-analysis of longitudinal studies of adolescent substance use. Building on our previous work, we're investigating how genetic effects change during the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
- Genes for Good (here's a link to the Facebook App that drives the study). An online citizen science-based genetic study of health and behavior. Sign up, give health information, send spit, get genotyped.