Public Release: 

UCSF Research Team Looking For Volunteers For Nationwide Study On Family Traits And Alcoholism

University of California - San Francisco

Researchers from the University of California San Francisco are looking for volunteers across the U.S. to participate in a new study on family traits associated with alcoholism.

Called the "UCSF Family Alcoholism Study," the nationwide project will investigate the links among behavior, personality characteristics, and biological factors associated with alcoholism by studying families affected by the disorder.

The research is part of ongoing work by the UCSF team on the genetic basis of alcoholism, and study results will contribute to future advances in understanding causes of the condition and in developing new treatments. The project originally was launched in January with a plan to enroll volunteers only from the San Francisco Bay Area, but phone interviews with participants proved so successful that the study has now been expanded nationwide. "We realized that we don't have to be restricted by geography, which means a wider research base, a larger number of participants, and more comprehensive data," said study coordinator Cassi Vieten, PhD, a researcher with the UCSF Gallo Clinic and Research Center.

"Children inherit genes from their parents that influence everything from hair and eye color to how likely one is to develop diabetes or high blood pressure," Vieten said. "While simple traits, such as eye color, are mostly controlled by genes, so-called complex traits also depend on choices we make."

"A tendency toward high blood pressure might be offset by regular exercise and a healthy diet. A similar situation seems to apply to alcoholism. Personality, behavior, and how well someone can 'hold' his or her alcohol may be inherited traits that affect how likely a person is to develop alcohol problems," she added.

The researchers are looking for volunteers who are heavy alcohol users or recovering alcoholics and who also have a family member who will take part in the study. All participants must be 18 years of age or older and free from addiction to other drugs, except nicotine.

Study volunteers must take part in a telephone interview about use of alcohol and other drugs, complete a pencil-and-paper personality test, and provide a blood sample for genetic analysis. The study covers expenses for drawing blood at a local laboratory or physician's office near the volunteer's home and for sending the sample to the UCSF team via a courier service.

All information will be kept confidential, and each person who completes the study will be reimbursed $30-50.

The research team hopes to enroll 2,000 study participants over the next two-to-three years.

Interested persons should contact the UCSF Family Alcoholism Study at the toll-free phone number, 1-888-805-UCSF (1-888-805-8273).

The study is supported by funds from the State of California.

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