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Elucidating the genetic basis of nicotine dependence by using electronic health records

Institution: University of California, San Diego
Investigator(s): Sandra Sanchez Roige,
Award Cycle: 2019 (Cycle 29) Grant #: T29KT0526 Award: $743,841
Subject Area: Neuroscience of Nicotine Addiction and Treatment
Award Type: New Investigator Awards

Initial Award Abstract
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, causing 6 million annual premature deaths. Genetic factors influence an individual's susceptibility to nicotine dependence by acting at multiple stages, including the decision to begin smoking, sensitivity to the subjective effects of the drug, development of tolerance, severity of drug withdrawal, inclination to quit, and ability to quit. This project examines the individual differences, or genetic factors, that cause some people to be at risk of nicotine dependence more than others. We will identify individuals with nicotine dependence from one of the largest repositories for biological samples in the US containing DNA and rich data on health status and other individual characteristics from electronic health records. We will use these extensive data to perform a large scale genetic study to identify specific genes that confer risk for nicotine dependence. We will also quantify the genetic risk for nicotine dependence, and evaluate its role in other forms of substance abuse, and other psychiatric and medical conditions, such as major depressive disorder and obesity. Our study has thus the potential to further our understanding about why some individuals are at greater risk to begin smoking, and have more trouble quitting. Ultimately, this work will allow prevention and cessation treatments to be tailored to individual genetic differences.