(Boston) -- Emily Oot, a third-year graduate student at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), has received a national research service award to study risk factors for the initiation of alcohol and drug use during early adolescence. The $106,887 grant is from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
The award will provide Oot with valuable training in both functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) analyses and in the epidemiology of adolescent alcohol use disorders. It also allows Oot to conduct an independent research project, Identifying neurobiological predictors of alcohol use onset during adolescence, under a parent study currently underway at McLean Hospital. "This study responds to the need for a better understanding of the characteristics present prior to initiation of alcohol use that may represent risk factors for use during adolescence," Oot said.
In her current graduate studies she works with BUSM's Marlene Oscar-Berman, PhD, as well as McLean Hospital's Marisa Silveri, PhD, to study alcohol use disorder using structural and functional MRI.
According to Oot, adolescents who have not yet used alcohol or other drugs are being enrolled into the parent study at 13-14 years old for a baseline scanning visit and will be followed for two years via annual visits and quarterly surveys to assess initiation of alcohol and substance use and other risky behaviors. "Data collected will inform targets and strategies for prevention and intervention efforts in maladaptive alcohol and substance use," she adds.
Oot is a graduate student in BUSM's Behavioral Neuroscience PhD program and a fellow in the Transformative Training Program in Addiction Science. She graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University in 2010 and spent four years performing full-time research. She first worked as a research assistant and lab manager at Georgetown University's Early Learning Project studying learning and memory in early development. She then received an Intramural Research Training Award from the National Institutes of Health and spent two years at the NIAAA where she studied alcohol craving and dependence using fMRI and an alcohol self-administration paradigm.
Originally established in 1848 as the New England Female Medical College, and incorporated into Boston University in 1873, Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) today is a leading academic medical center with an enrollment of more than 700 medical students and 950 students pursuing degrees in graduate medical sciences. BUSM faculty contribute to more than 950 active grants and contracts, with total anticipated awards valued at more than $693 million in amyloidosis, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, infectious diseases, pulmonary disease and dermatology, among other areas. The School's teaching affiliates include Boston Medical Center, its primary teaching hospital, the Boston VA Healthcare System, Kaiser Permanente in northern California, as well as Boston HealthNet, a network of 15 community health centers. For more information, please visit http://www.bumc.bu.edu/busm/