Addiction Genetics and Pharmacogenetics Division

The Division of Addiction Genetics and Pharmacogenetics focuses on the role of genetic variation and epigenetics as factors both in the risk of addiction and as moderators of response to both psychosocial and pharmacological interventions. The Division supports research on subgroups of addicted individuals that are genetically homogeneous with respect either to the development of an addictive disorder or its response to treatment. Treatment trials supported by the Division employ state-of-the-art clinical trial designs (e.g., adaptive trial designs) and genetic and epigenetic methods (including candidate gene and genomewide approaches).


Research Areas

A major focus of the division is on gene finding for all major substance use disorders, including alcohol, cocaine, opioids, and cannabis, and psychiatric disorders that co-occur with addiction. A second major focus of the division is on the identification of pharmacogenetic moderators of medications to treat alcohol use disorder.


Participate in Our Study

Dr. Kranzler is conducting research to learn more about how people are affected by alcohol dependence, particularly through family history and genetics. Participants are African American men and women, age 18 and older. If you are interested in participating in this research, learn more about it here!



Key Publications

Kember, R.L., Merikangas, A.K., Verma, S.S., Verma, A., Judy, R., Regeneron Genetics Center, Damrauer, S.M., Ritchie, M.D., Rader, D.J., Bucan, M. (2020) Polygenic risk of psychiatric disorders exhibits cross trait associations in electronic health record data from European ancestry individuals. Biological Psychiatry. Jul 6:S0006-3223(20)31734-0.

Kranzler, H.R. *, Zhou, H. *, Kember, R.L. *, Vickers Smith, R., Justice, A.C., Damrauer, S., Tsao, P.S., Klarin, D., Rader, D., Regeneron Genetics Center, Cheng, Z., Tate, J.P., Becker, W.C., Concato, J., Xu, K., Polimanti, R., Zhao, H., VA Million Veteran Program, Gelernter, J. (2019) Genome-wide Association Study of Alcohol Consumption and Use Disorder in 274,424 Individuals from Multiple Populations. Nature Communications. Nature Communications. 10(1499) [*these authors contributed equally].

Kember, R.L., Hou, L., Ji, X., Andersen, L.H., Ghorai, A., Estrella, L.N., Almasy, L., McMahon, F.J., Brown, C.B., Bućan, M. (2018) Genetic pleiotropy between mood disorders, metabolic, and endocrine traits in a multigenerational pedigree. Translational Psychiatry. 8(1): 218

Kranzler, H.R., Armeli, S., Feinn, R., Tennen, H., Gelernter, J., & Covault, J.  GRIK1 genotype moderates topiramate’s effects on daily drinking level, expectations of alcohol’s positive effects, and desire to drink.  International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 2014 April 30:1-8. [Epub ahead of print].

Kranzler, H.R., Covault, J., Feinn, R., Armeli, S., Tennen, H., Arias, A.J., Gelernter, J., Pond, T., Oncken, C., & Kampman, K.M.  Topiramate treatment of heavy drinkers: moderation by a GRIK1 polymorphism.  American Journal of Psychiatry, 171(4):445-452, 2014.

Bi, J., Gelernter, J., Sun, J., & Kranzler, H.R.  Comparing the utility of homogeneous subtypes of cocaine use and related behaviors with DSM-IV cocaine dependence as traits for genetic association analysis.  American Journal of Medical Genetics, 165B(2): 148-56, 2014.

Gelernter, J., Kranzler, H.R., Sherva, R., Almasy, L., Koesterer, R., Anton, R., Preuss, U.W., Ridinger, M., Rujescu, D., Wodarz, N., Zill, P., Zhao, H., & Farrer, L.A.  Genome-wide association study of alcohol dependence: significant findings in African- and European-Americans including novel risk loci.  Molecular Psychiatry, 19(1):41-49, 2014.

Gelernter, J., Kranzler, H.R., Sherva, R., Koesterer, R., Almasy, L., Zhao, H., & Farrer, L.A.  Genome-wide association study of opioid dependence: multiple associations mapped to calcium and potassium pathways.  Biological Psychiatry, 76(1):66-74, 2014.

Gelernter, J., Sherva, R., Koesterer, R., Almasy, L., Zhao, H., Kranzler, H.R., & Farrer, L.  Genome-wide association study of cocaine dependence and related traits: FAM53B identified as a risk gene.  Molecular Psychiatry, 19(6):717-723, 2014.

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