lecture

Genetic Research on Addiction: Ethics, Law, and Public Health

Given the high costs and difficulties in successfully treating addiction, there has been interest in discovering more effective approaches. Dependence on alcohol and other psychoactive substances has long been thought to have a biological basis, as suggested by observations of its prevalence in some families. Therefore it has been thought that a better understanding of the genetic contribution to addiction could lead to more effective drugs to assist in cessation of drug use with fewer adverse side effects. Relatedly, it is assumed that genotyping could also better match patients to existing pharmacological treatments for addiction. However, despite good evidence that genes contribute to addiction susceptibility, the results of qualitative family studies and molecular approaches to addiction disorders have been fairly modest thus far. Also, like other behavioral genetics research, the manner in which genetics research associated with addiction is conducted, interpreted to the public, and then translated into clinical practice and policy initiatives raises important ethical, social, and legal issues.

These issues were addressed in an edited volume, Genetic Research on Addiction: Ethics, the Law, and Public Health (Audrey R. Chapman, ed., Cambridge University Press, 2012) and a conference with the same title held at the UCONN Health Center on October 22, 2014. Both of these initiatives were funded by a NIH grant to the UCONN Alcohol Research Center on the Etiology and Treatment of Alcohol Dependence, NIH/NIAAA P60-AA03510

The one day conference had two key aims: (1) to identify the ethical issues arising when carrying out genetically based addictions research and (2) to explore the ethical, legal, and public health implications of interpreting, translating, and applying the research. It is meant for pre-doctoral, doctoral, and post-doctoral researchers interested in these issues and to a lesser extent, established investigators in the addiction field.

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Presentations/Slides

  1. Introduction to topic - Genetic Research.  Victor Hesselbrock Ph.D., Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Psychiatry, Endowed Chair in Addiction Studies, Interim Senior Associate Dean of Research, UConn Health (8 minutes)
  2. The Implications of Genetic Research on Alcohol Dependence for Prevention and Treatment.  Adrian Carter Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow, Monash University, Australia and Honorary Research Fellow, University of Queensland (30 minutes) Slides
  3. Improving the Informed Consent Process in Research with Substance-Abusing Participants. Karen Dugosh Ph.D., Quantitative Psychologist, Section on Law and Ethics Research Treatment Research Institute on the Organization and Management of Addiction Treatment, University of Pennsylvania School of Treatment (29 minutes) Slides
  4. Issues in Obtaining Meaningful Informed Consent in Research with Substance-Abusing Participants. David Festinger Ph.D., Director, Section on Law and Ethics Research, Treatment Research Institute on the Organization and Management of Addiction Treatment, University of Pennsylvania School of Treatment (37 minutes) Slides
  5. Ethical Responsibilities to Minor Children with Drug Abusing Parents in Alcohol Research Trials. Thomas McMahon Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine (36 minutes) Slides
  6. Protecting Privacy in Genetic Research on Alcohol Dependence and Other Addictions. Audrey Chapman Ph.D., Ethicist, Social Scientist, Clergy Person, Healey Professor of Medical Ethics, Department of Community Medicine and Health Care, UConn Health (28 minutes) Slides
  7. Certificates of Confidentiality: Uses and Limitations as Privacy Protection for Genetic Research on Addiction. Zita Lazzarini J.D., M.P.H., Associate Professor, Department of Community Medicine and Health Care, UConn Health (28 minutes) Slides
  8. Research Funding from the Addictive Consumption Industries: Issues and Concerns. Peter J. Adams Ph.D., Associate Professor of Social and Community Health, University of Auckland, New Zealand (30 minutes) Slides
  9. Implications of Sponsorship of Public Health Research by Industry: The Case of Brazil. Alan Vendrame Ph.D., Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Federal University of Sao Paulo, Brazil (8 minutes) Slides
  10. Research Funding from the Addictive Consumption Industries: Guidelines for Minimizing the Effects of Conflicts of Interest. Thomas F Babor Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Department of Community Medicine and Health Care, UConn Health (36 minutes) Slides
  11. The Public Health Implications of Genetic Research on Addiction. Jonathan M Kaplan, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Philosophy, Oregon State University (29 minutes) Slides

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