The Charleston Alcohol Research Center continues to have alcohol treatment as the Center’s overarching theme and embraces a multidisciplinary approach to accomplish its objectives, with basic scientists working side-by-side with psychiatrists or clinical psychologists on a thematic program of research. Junior investigators recruited into the Center are “teamed” with more experienced investigators to provide them with a unique mentoring opportunity aimed at arming them with the necessary experience to become independent researchers. The research teams have taken advantage of developing or refining cutting-edge technologies (e.g, brain imaging, genetics, in vivo microdialysis, multi-array recording, and laboratory paradigms to study stress-alcohol interactions and/or voluntary drinking) to address their specific research questions.
Our five Research Components are tied together by either a focus on neuroanatomical and/or neurochemical adaptations that accompany the transition from controlled to uncontrolled drinking, the neurocircuitry underlying reward processes, or trait personality factors that may mediate the risk for development of alcohol dependence or the response to medication. Pharmacotherapy, or implications for pharmacotherapy, remains the major focus of the Charleston Alcohol Research Center, and is the area where we have developed a national/international reputation.
The Research Components are also supported by two Cores. The Administrative Core provides the leadership and infrastructure to facilitate the mission of the Center as a whole. The Shared Core provides and manages common services needed by the researchers to maximize resources and increase productivity. A Pilot Project Component attracts new talent or new ideas to the Center.
Our Center philosophy views alcoholism as having a biological basis, with neuroanatomical, neurochemical, genetic, and behavioral underpinnings.
Alcoholism remains a major public health concern. Advances in neuroscience and genetics will help inform treatment-related research and will help identify risk factors, at the behavioral as well as neurochemical level, that indicate a risk for the development of alcohol dependence. This information will be useful for testing prevention as well as intervention strategies that, when transferred to clinical practice, will ultimately decrease the burden of excessive alcohol use on the individual, as well as on society.