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

Crist RC, Vickers-Smith R, Kember RL, Rentsch CT, Xu H, Edelman EJ, Hartwell EE, Kampman KM, Kranzler HR. Analysis of genetic and clinical factors associated with buprenorphine response. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 227:109013, 2021.

Dao C, Zhou H, Small A, Gordon KS, Li B, Kember RL, Ye Y, Gelernter J, Xu K, Kranzler HR,* Zhao H,* Justice AC.* The impact of removing former drinkers from genome-wide association studies of AUDIT-C. Addiction. 116: 3044-3054, 2021.      *Co-senior authors

Hartwell EE, Feinn R, Morris PE, Gelernter J, Krystal J, Arias AJ, Hoffman M, Petrakis I, Gueorguieva R, Schacht JP, Oslin D, Anton RF, Kranzler HR. Systematic review and meta-analysis of the moderating effect of rs1799971 in OPRM1, the mu-opioid receptor gene, on response to naltrexone treatment of alcohol use disorder. Addiction. 115:1426-1437, 2020.

Hartwell EE, Merikangas AK, Verma SS, Ritchie MD; Regeneron Genetics Center, Kranzler HR*, Kember RL.* (2021)  Genetic liability for substance use associated with medical comorbidities in electronic health records of African- and European-ancestry individuals. *Co-senior authors. Addiction Biology. Oct 5:e13099. doi: 10.1111/adb.13099. Online ahead of print.

Kember RL, Vickers-Smith R, Zhou H, Xu H, Dao C, Justice AC, Gelernter J, Vujkovic M, Kranzler HR. Genetic underpinnings of the transition from alcohol consumption to alcohol use disorder: shared and unique genetic architectures in a cross-ancestry sample, medRxiv 2021.09.08.21263302; doi:

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

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 HR, Morris PE, Pond T, Crist RC, Kampman KM, Hartwell EE, Lynch KG. Prospective pharmacogenetic study of topiramate for treating alcohol use disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology. 46:1407-1413, 2021.

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].

Witkiewitz K, Roos CR, Mann K, Kranzler HR. Advancing precision medicine for alcohol use disorder: A replication and extension of positive naltrexone response among reward drinkers. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 43:2395-2405, 2019

Xu K, Li B, McGinnis KA, Vickers-Smith R, Dao C, Sun N, Kember RL, Zhou H, Becker WC, Gelernter J, Kranzler HR, Zhao H, Justice AC; VA Million Veteran Program. Genome-wide association study of smoking trajectory and meta-analysis of smoking status in 842,000 individuals. Nature Communications. 2020;11(1):5302.

Zhou H, Rentsch CT, Cheng Z, Kember RL, Nunez YZ, Sherva RM, Tate JP, Dao C, Xu K, Polimanti R, Farrer LA, Justice AC, Kranzler HR, Gelernter J, Veterans Affairs Million Veteran Program. Association of OPRM1 functional coding variant with opioid use disorder. A genome-wide association study. JAMA Psychiatry, 77:1072-80, 2020

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