Current Research Projects
There are opportunities available for graduate and undergraduate students to be involved in these projects. Contact Dr. Prescott if you are interested email@example.com
Virginia Adult Twin Study of Psychiatric and Substance Use Disorders (VATSPSUD)
This is a longitudinal population-based study of >9000 adult twins born in Virginia who were interviewed up to four times to assess common psychiatric disorders, personality, and a large number of psychosocial risk and protective factors.
Current projects include:
- studying the role of drinking motives in risk for alcohol dependence
- twin pair resemblance for trajectories of substance use
- personality and clinical characteristics of women with genetic risk for alcoholism
- genetic and environmental sources of alcoholism-depression comorbidity
- using genetic information to define subtypes of alcoholism
- identifying environmental risk factors by studying pairs of twins discordant for alcoholism and depression
This project is in collaboration with colleagues at Virginia Commonwealth University. The project history and early results are summarized in Kendler & Prescott, Genes, Environment and Psychopathology: Understanding the Causes of Psychiatric and Substance Use Disorders. Guilford Publications, 2006.
Interactions of Genes and Childhood Adversity in the Lifetime Dynamics of Cognitive Abilities
This project is to study genetic and environmental influences on change in cognitive abilities and health associated with aging. Study participants are members of the Intergenerational Studies, a collection of 3 ongoing longitudinal studies begun in the 1920s and 1930s and maintained by the Institute of Human Development at UC Berkeley. These individuals have been repeatedly assessed on cognitive, psychological and health measures.
The goals of this project include:
- genotyping >1000 participants from these samples for candidate genes on pathways for processes involved in learning, memory, and cognitive functioning
- study the relation of variation in these genes to life-span trajectories of cognitive abilities
- study how genetic variation interacts with early childhood adversity
- environmental risk factors influencing trajectories of cognitive change
This project is in collaboration with Jack McArdle and other colleagues at USC, Phil Cowan at UC Berkeley, and Kevin Grimm and Keith Widaman at UC Davis.
Individualized Integrated Treatment of Co-Occurring Disorders in Homeless Adults
The overall goal of this project is to identify characteristics that mediate and moderate treatment response among >400 adults receiving treatment for substance abuse and co-occurring disorders at Homeless Healthcare Los Angeles, an outpatient facility offering integrated treatment and other empirically supported interventions. Outcomes include treatment retention, substance use, mental health and other measures of psychosocial functioning, including physical health, housing, legal, social and occupational functioning.
Construct Validity of Drinking Motives and Attitudes
This is a new project which combines data from several sources to address the validity of self-reported measures of drinking motives and attitudes. Studies include secondary analyses of motives and substance use from existing datasets (VATSPSUD and IASPSAD), as well as new data on motives, attitudes, and substance use being collected from college students. Planned projects include experimental studies to investigate the role of mood and personality on drinking motives and alcohol consumption. Collaborators include Susan Luczak and Norman Miller, USC Dept of Psychology.
Irish Affected Sib Pair Study of Alcohol Dependence (IASPSAD)
This is a study of Irish families with 2 or more offspring with alcohol dependence.
Project goals include:
- identifying genes that increase the susceptibility to develop alcohol dependence
- identifying genetically-relevant subtypes of alcoholism
- linkage study of alcohol dependence
- candidate gene studies of alcohol dependence
- validation of family history assessments of alcoholism
- linkage studies of nicotine dependence
- using clinical covariates to identify etiological heterogeneity in alcoholism.
This project is in collaboration with Kenneth Kendler, Brien Riley and other colleagues at Virginia Commonwealth University, Po-Hsiu Kuo of National Cheng Kung University, Diana Patterson of Shaftsbury Square Hospital, and Dermot Walsh of the Irish Health Research Board.