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National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

Projects & Initiatives

NIAAA promotes advancement in several critical research areas with special programs and by participating on select committees.  Priority research areas include:

Medications Development

NIAAA’s Medications Development Program focuses on expanding safe and effective medication options for those suffering from alcohol use disorders and alcohol induced organ damage. The Medications Development Program offers funding grants and contracts to academic research institutions and small businesses developing novel medication treatments. In addition to developing new compounds, the Program also encourages applications evaluating promising medications for use in understudied alcohol dependent populations, including:

  • People with co-morbid psychiatric disorders
  • People with co-morbid substance abuse
  • People with co-morbid medical disorders
  • Adolescents
  • Young adults

In addition, the NIAAA Clinical Investigations Group (NCIG) is a new program that quickly and efficiently tests promising new compounds for alcohol treatment. NCIG works with private industry to encourage research and development of new medications to treat alcohol use disorders and to expedite the lengthy process of getting these medications to the market.

Learn more about Medications Development at NIAAA.

Underage Drinking

The mission of NIAAA’s Underage Drinking Research Initiative is to better understand the factors that compel youth to begin drinking, continue drinking, and progress to harmful use, abuse, and dependence.  The initiative analyzes evidence related to underage drinking using a developmental approach. This approach is based on converging evidence from multiple fields showing that underage drinking is best addressed and understood within a developmental framework.  Specific areas we currently focus on include:

Learn more about Underage Drinking research at NIAAA.

College Drinking Prevention

Since it began in 2000, this initiative has supported and stimulated studies of the epidemiology and natural history of college student drinking and related problems. The initiative seeks to:

  • Provide science-based information in accessible and practical ways
  • Encourage colleges to use this information to facilitate prevention and intervention activities
  • Design and test interventions that prevent or reduce alcohol-related problems among college students

To promote these goals, NIAAA supports more than 30 projects that target college-age youth.

Recently, NIAAA convened a new College Presidents’ Working Group to:  

  • Provide input to the Institute on future research directions
  • Provide input on what new NIAAA materials would be most helpful to college presidents
  • Recommend strategies for communicating with college administrators

To promote awareness of the consequences of college drinking, as well as prevention strategies, NIAAA also maintains a College Drinking Prevention website.  The site offers comprehensive research-based information on issues related to alcohol abuse and binge drinking among college students.

Learn more about College Drinking.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

NIAAA has a large research program on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) that sponsors projects on prevention, treatment of women with alcohol use disorders, improving diagnosis of FASD, increasing understanding of the effects of alcohol on the unborn child, and developing effective interventions to mitigate the health effects on those prenatally exposed to alcohol.

In addition, NIAAA promotes and advances new research on FASD by participating in the Interagency Coordinating Committee on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (ICCFASD). ICCFASD coordinates the activities of all Federal agencies who seek to solve the challenges posed by FASD.

Learn more:

Health Disparities

NIAAA’s Health Disparities Initiative researches the unique causes and consequences of why some racial and ethnic groups, as well as rural and economically disadvantaged populations experience the negative consequences of alcohol more severely compared with other minority and non-minority groups.  This initiative also focuses on developing treatment and prevention strategies that are specifically targeted to these groups.

Learn more about Health Disparities.

Keller and Mendelson Honorary Lecture Series

NIAAA coordinates two lecture series highlighting work in the field of alcohol research. Learn more about the Keller and Mendelson Honorary Lecture Series.

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