Hemin Chin, Division of Neuroscience and Behavior

Participating IC: None

Purpose

The purpose of this announcement is to issue a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to solicit research resource applications that (i) develop a “bank” of brain tissues (fresh-frozen and formalin-fixed) from human subjects with alcohol use disorder (AUD) and control cases with confirmed clinical and pathological diagnoses, (ii) develop and promote a prospective brain donor program to enhance the “brain bank”, (iii) establish an associated DNA (blood) bank from the brain donor group, and (iv) provide these brain  tissue samples to research groups with an interest in AUD - related brain damage.

The objective of this FOA is to support a unique alcohol research resource center that can provide well-characterized brain tissues obtained from subjects documented not to have misused other drugs (besides nicotine).  Applicants must demonstrate an interest in the resource by investigators from at least three different institutions, one of which may be their home institution.

Background

NIAAA is interested in supporting a Brain Tissue Resource Center for Alcohol Research that provides post-mortem brain tissue from cohorts of patients with alcohol use disorders and matched control cases that to qualified investigators from the United States. There are many human brain banks providing access for use in research into neurological and psychiatric disease. However, there exists a critical need for unique resource for brain tissues that are obtained from people documented not to have misused other drugs (besides nicotine), allowing for solid conclusions to be drawn about the effects of alcohol on the brain versus other drugs of misuse. The Clinical resource must maintain carefully selected brains for “pure” alcohol use disorder (AUD) in the absence of other potentially confounding disorders that will be useful to USA-based clinical investigators.  For example, investigators who would utilize this resource could document alterations in the protein and mRNA abundance of various neurotransmitter receptors, to uncover novel brain signaling pathways associated with chronic alcohol misuse using microarray gene expression analysis, that may also reveal epigenetic modifications in the brains of human subjects with AUD. Thus, the Brain Tissue Resource Center has significantly advanced our understanding of the neurobiology of chronic alcohol use disorders.

Scope/Research Objectives

The goal of the clinical research resource center is to support of brain tissue center that provides unique and well-characterized post-mortem brain tissue from human subjects with AUD without comorbidities, but not limited to non-alcohol associated addiction.  The following scientific areas are of interest to NIAAA in the continuation period. 

Research areas appropriate to this announcement include, but are not limited to:

  • Establish and maintain a “brain bank” where brain tissue is collected from well-characterized alcohol misuse cases that have very little co-morbidity with other psychiatric disorders and substance use disorder.   Appropriate control cases should also be collected.
  • Continue to develop and maintain a prospective brain donor program where various pre-morbid data are collected from future brain tissue donors.
  • Continue to enhance state-of-the-art methods for collecting, storing and distributing human brain tissue
  • Collect DNA samples from brain donors for genetic analyses

The Brain Tissue Research Resource is expected to recruit donor subjects and collect brain tissues from the cohorts with alcohol-related diagnoses, and controls.  It is expected that tissue samples will be collected from all ethnic groups and gender that reflect the diversity and demographic composition of the populations. 

NIAAA will not consider Clinical Research Resource R28 applications that include brain samples from human subjects with history of substance use or misuse, and those that propose mechanistic or hypothesis-driven research. New applications that propose to duplicate or overlap with currently supported NIAAA Research Resources will not be appropriate for this future solicitation. 

Justification/Outcome

  • The brain bank established under this FOA will facilitate research into alcohol use disorder (AUD) and alcohol-related brain damage (ARBD), by providing human post-mortem brain tissue, and associated clinical information to researchers worldwide.
  • Human post-mortem brain tissue with well characterized, high quality tissues and associated clinical and lifestyle information is an essential resource to study the molecular and cellular basis of AUD and ARBD.
  • Tissue based studies augment clinical and preclinical studies and facilitate translation of research findings into better diagnosis and treatment of patients.