Brown Wins New $12.5 Million Grant To Fight Substance Misuse; Launching Center Of Excellence

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With a new National Institutes of Health grant expected to total $12.5 million over five years, Brown University will expand its research on substance misuse and launch a new Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE). The grant will support biobanking, establishing at Brown a laboratory for collecting blood and other samples from patients to measure chemical markers, such as those of inflammation or stress.

Founded in 1764, based in Providence, Rhode Island, USA, Brown is a leading research university home to world-renowned faculty, and also an innovative educational institution where the curiosity, creativity and intellectual joy of students drives academic excellence.

COBRE is a National Institute for General Medical Sciences program that focuses on developing institutional research infrastructure and helping promising early-career investigators establish research projects so they can successfully compete for additional federal funding. Groups of researchers at eligible institutions can apply for up to three five-year phases of COBRE support

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Based at Brown University’s School of Public Health, the Center for Addiction and Disease Risk Exacerbation (CADRE) will focus on the intersection of substance use and disease. The grant will establish a clinical laboratory at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies (CAAS) and the school. The lab will be staffed by a full-time research nurse so that, for example, study participants will no longer have to go elsewhere for a simple blood draw. Jennifer Tidey, a professor of behavioral and social sciences and psychiatry and human behavior, will lead the laboratory. Eventually, the services at the lab will be available to researchers across all of Brown.

The grant will also support four early-career faculty members as they study substance use and chronic diseases — research questions on the interplay between alcohol and HIV on inflammation, for example, or whether cannabis can substitute for opioids in treating rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, the grant will fund two $50,000 pilot projects each year focused on understanding and addressing the higher burden of substance use and chronic disease among racial and ethnic minorities. It will also provide financial support for the center to recruit and fund two postdoctoral fellows from groups underrepresented in biomedical sciences.

“The CADRE grant will increase the center’s capacity to conduct cutting-edge research and test innovative substance abuse interventions to improve population health.” … “This grant will be integral to the School of Public Health’s initiatives over the next five years that seek to impact the urgent health challenges of addiction.” – Bess Marcus, Dean of the School of Public Health, Brown

“Everyone knows about the relationship between tobacco use and lung cancer, but there are many other links between substance use and chronic diseases.” … “Understanding the mechanisms through which substance use affects chronic disease is a central part of the research we endeavor to do with this grant. If we can reduce the burden of substance use — for example, smoking and its impact on cardiovascular disease — there will be a trickle-down effect on health and health care cost savings.”

“Substance misuse is a huge problem in our culture.” … “It’s important that we come up with innovative and testable ideas. The best source of innovation is from passionate early-career individuals who have the opportunity to work with seasoned mentors while bringing their own ideas to the table. That melding of mentoring with innovative, fresh ideas is our best chance to ultimately ensure that we get a handle on this problem.” – Peter Monti, Director, Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies (CAAS), Brown and professor of behavioral and social sciences