Faculty

Is love really like a drug? VCU course examines science behind media portrayals of romance and substance abuse

As part of a new course at Virginia Commonwealth University, students have authored papers analyzing pop songs — “Your Love is my Drug” by Kesha, “Drunk on a Plane” by Dierks Bentley, and Huey Lewis and the News’ “I Want a New Drug” among them — that deal with themes and metaphors related to romantic relationships and drug and alcohol abuse.

“I analyzed Justin Timberlake’s ‘Pusher Love Girl,’” said Ashley Stewart, a senior in the ...

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Study investigates genetic, environmental factors in alcohol use disorder and divorce

Alcohol use disorder and divorce are strongly correlated, meaning that experiencing one makes it more likely to experience the other in one’s lifetime, according to a new study led by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University.

The study, “Alcohol use disorder and divorce: Evidence for a genetic correlation in a population-based Swedish sample,” will appear in the journal Addiction, published by the Society for the Study of Addiction. The study was published online at onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/add.13719/abstract.

Previous research has shown that ...

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Methodological Development And Statistical Genetics

Dr. Silviu-Alin Bacanu, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry. His interests in psychiatric genetics began while he was completing his PhD in statistics from the University of Pittsburgh. Upon graduating, he pursued these interests by working in psychiatric genetics research at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for several years, where he worked with on a variety of phenotypes, including schizophrenia, eating disorders, and Alzheimer’s disease. Subsequently, he obtained a ...

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Personal Experience Leads To Career In Anxiety Disorders

Dr. John Hettema, MD., Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Psychiatry and the Director of the VCU Anxiety Disorders Specialty Clinic. Dr. Hettema has a PhD in physics, but a series of personal experiences with several close friends suffering from severe depression during his physics post-doctoral fellowship period ignited his interest in psychiatry. This interest sparked a career change, and he entered medical school at the Medical College of Virginia in 1992. ...

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The Genetic Underpinnings Of PTSD And Stress-Related Drinking

Dr. Ananda Amstadter, Ph.D. is Associate Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Human and Molecular Genetics. Her interests in the field of psychiatric genetics began when she worked as a research assistant during her undergraduate years. While coding archived assessments of women with borderline personality disorder, she was struck by the number of these women who had a history of trauma. These experiences launched her interest in traumatic stress psychopathology and her ...

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Whole Genome Sequencing In Multiplex Families

Brien Riley, Ph.D. is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry. He is a molecular geneticist interested in identifying genes that contribute to variation in the brain, central nervous system function, and psychiatric illness risk and behavior. These interests developed after he completed his bachelor’s degree in psychology, as a result of his dissatisfaction with the field’s way of approaching brain function and dysfunction. He was frustrated “because the field of ...

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Dr. Vladimirov Receives $400K Alcohol Dependence Grant

Vladimir Vladimirov, M.D., Ph.D., was awarded a two-year grant from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in the amount of $419,375 to study the genome-wide expression patterns of genes and miRNA in the nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex from subjects with alcohol dependence (AD) and healthy controls. The award has two main goals: i) identify AD-relevant gene and miRNA networks and ii) detect genetic polymorphisms found to be associated with AD from ...

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Brain Structure, Function & Human Development

Michael Neale, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychiatry, Human and Molecular Genetics, and Psychology, as well as associate director of the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics. His career in the field of psychiatric genetics started as an interest in psychology and neuroscience, which developed during his formative adolescent years after reading Jeffrey Gray’s The Psychology of Fear and Stress. Subsequently, he earned both his Bachelor’s and PhD degrees in psychology at the University ...

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