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UAB researcher wins early-stage investigator award for epigenetics of substance abuse research

  • June 29, 2015
A UAB researcher focusing on the epigenetics of drug abuse wins a significant funding award from the National Institutes of Health.

jeremy dayJeremy DayJeremy J. Day, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Neurobiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has been named one of six inaugural recipients of new research awards from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The Avenir Award programs in HIV/AIDS and epigenetics are newly developed programs that reward early-stage investigators who propose highly innovative studies. Avenir means ‘future’ in French.

The Avenir Award Program for Genetics or Epigenetics of Substance Abuse supports early-stage investigators who show promise of being tomorrow’s leaders in the field of genetics or epigenetics of substance abuse. Epigenetics is an emerging field that studies how environmental factors influence changes in gene expression without altering the DNA sequence.

Day says his proposal examines exposure to drugs of abuse, which produce long-lasting changes in neuronal circuits that control learning and decision-making.

“This project will investigate the role of epigenetic mechanisms in these changes, providing insight into the molecular basis by which these mechanisms contribute to drug addiction,” said Day. “We will use these insights to develop new tools that target specific epigenetic processes in the brain, which will lead to more effective epigenetics-based treatment and prevention strategies for drug addiction and improve quality of life for addicted individuals.”

“The innovative proposals by these young scientists in the fields of HIV/AIDS and epigenetics are very exciting,” said NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. “We’re pleased to support these creative approaches and are looking forward to seeing the results of their research.”