Hunter Gets $1.6 Million Grant to Study Factors Related to Drug Abuse

Hunter was recently awarded a five-year $1.6 million grant to support three research projects that are examining aspects of drug abuse. The grant is from the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health.

Professor Gordon A. Barr is principal investigator for the new grant, which supports the research projects of Professors Rebecca Huselid, Shirzad Jenab, and Vanya Quinones-Jenab, with Professor Jeffrey Parsons acting as a consultant/advisor to the grant.

The five professors are all members of the Psychology Department faculty. “All of the projects,” explains Barr, “are seeking to determine how best to understand the factors, both social and biological, underlying drug abuse and how best to mitigate drug use.”

These are the research projects:

* Huselid is studying how perceptions of personal and group-level race discrimination are related to substance use, psychological distress, and academic achievement; she will also test the effects of racism on coping responses to stress.

* Jenab proposes to use molecular biological methods to determine novel mechanisms that mediate cocaine’s effects; he will also seek to devise new strategies to prevent cocaine addiction.

* Quinones-Jenab is testing the hypothesis that the rewarding effects of cocaine are modulated by the female hormones estrogen and progesterone, since women are more susceptible to the addictive properties of cocaine and other stimulant drugs than are men.

The new grant will also support a research seminar, to be given in the spring, featuring outside speakers who are experts in research on drug abuse. The specific program funded by the grant is Hunter’s MIDARP (Minority Institutions’ Drug Abuse Research Program), which is directed by Barr.