Research

Student researches ‘subtle biological differences’ of addiction

Binge drinking is a growing problem in the United States, but are all problem drinkers the same? That is a question Virginia Commonwealth University student Megan Cooke hopes to answer.

Cooke has been interested in alcohol dependence and alcohol use behavior since receiving a postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award to work at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. She quickly realized the importance of genetic influences in the development of addiction — “Ignoring [the genetics] ...

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Females more at genetic risk for developing insomnia than males, VCU study suggests

Genes may contribute more to the development of insomnia symptoms in females than in males, according to a new study led by a Virginia Commonwealth University graduate student.

Drawing on pre-existing data from the Virginia Adult Twin Studies of Psychiatric and Substance Use Disorders (VATSPSUD), a large data set collected by VCU psychiatry professor Kenneth S. Kendler, M.D., Mackenzie Lind found evidence that the heritability of insomnia could be higher for females than it is for males, suggesting ...

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VCU researchers and international partners are first to identify risk genes for clinical depression

For the first time in scientific history, researchers have identified specific genetic clues to the underlying etiology of clinical depression. The findings are the result of an international collaboration among researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Oxford and throughout China to localize risk genes for major depressive disorder.

While prior studies have failed to identify replicated evidence for molecular genetic markers that predispose to risk for the disease, the international research team, in which VCU’s Virginia Institute for ...

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VCU researchers discover that schizophrenia risk is diminished by high IQ

High intelligence could protect against the development of schizophrenia in people who have a genetic predisposition for the disease, according to a new study conducted by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University and Lund University in Sweden. The findings contradict conventional wisdom that schizophrenia and brilliance are linked.

The research provides insight into how IQ and schizophrenia interact and suggest that intelligence is an important moderator in the development of the mental disorder.

“If you’re really smart, your genes for schizophrenia don’t ...

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Study reveals new information about the genes and biological pathways involved in schizophrenia

An international team of researchers has identified more than 100 locations in the human genome associated with the risk of an individual developing schizophrenia, according to a study published online in the journal Nature this week.

The findings advance the knowledge of schizophrenia on the molecular level, and provide critical information about the biological pathways underlying the illness — which has been poorly understood until now.

By understanding the molecular and cellular pathways involved in schizophrenia, researchers may be ...

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Criminal behavior: Older siblings strongly sway younger siblings close in age

If a sibling commits a violent criminal act, the risk that a younger sibling may follow in their footsteps is more likely than the transmission of that behavior to an older sibling, according to a new study conducted by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University and Lund University in Sweden.

The findings provide insight into the social transmission of violent behaviors and suggest that environmental factors within families can be important when it comes to delinquent behavior. Down the road, the ...

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Study examines role of religious devotion in substance use and abuse

Analysis of religiosity in childhood and adulthood suggests that individuals who change in religiosity over time are at greater risk of using psychoactive substances, including alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, according to a Virginia Commonwealth University study.

Religiosity is the relevance of religious belief to a person’s life – in other words, how religious or devout a person is. The study, which will be published in the March issue of the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence and currently available online, showed ...

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Unlocking the puzzle of anxiety and depression

A current Virginia Commonwealth University study hopes to begin unlocking the key to understanding anxiety and depressive syndromes – conditions that are known as internalizing disorders (IDs).

One in four people will suffer from an anxiety disorder in their lifetime, and between 15 and 20 percent of individuals will experience a depressive episode. Even with these high lifetime prevalence rates, very little is currently known regarding the genetic basis of IDs and how it relates to other internalizing risk factors.

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