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$7.2M Grant From National Institute on Drug Abuse Allows Temple Scientists to Continue Critical Research on Drugs of Abuse

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Ellen Unterwald, PhD, in the Center for Substance Abuse Research (CSAR).

Substance abuse is a major public health problem in the United States, with some 21 million Americans diagnosed with at least one substance use disorder. Only 10 percent of individuals, however, receive treatment for substance use disorders, and in many instances effective, long-lasting treatments are limited. Compounding those problems is the fact that the biological basis for addiction is incompletely understood.

For the last two decades, scientists at the Center for Substance Abuse Research (CSAR) at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University have been working to advance the understanding of the biological basis of drug addiction and actions of drugs of abuse. Now, thanks to a $7.2M grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), that work is funded for another five years. This is the fourth 5-year renewal of the NIDA P30 Core Center of Excellence grant awarded to CSAR.

“We feel incredibly fortunate to receive support once again from NIDA,” said Ellen Unterwald, PhD, Professor of Pharmacology at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine (LKSOM) and Director of CSAR. “NIDA funding has helped foster critical interdisciplinary research and new collaborations in substance abuse research, both within and beyond Temple University.”

According to Dr. Unterwald, the NIDA P30 Core Center of Excellence grant has been a major force in carrying research on drugs of abuse to new heights at Temple. Since 1998, CSAR has made numerous discoveries in the areas of substance abuse, drug addiction, pain, and HIV/AIDS. In the last five years alone, the P30 Center has contributed to 64 research projects, resulting in more than 150 peer-reviewed papers.

The renewal of the NIDA P30 Center grant enables continued funding of an administrative core and pilot project core, as well as five research support cores, including an animal core for addiction-related behaviors, a biochemical pharmacology core, a cell and immunology core, an integrated physiological systems and pain core, and a molecular biology core. The research support cores have the capacity to carry out a wide range of tasks, from measuring animal physiology and behavior to assessing the actions of drugs in the nervous and immune systems using biochemical and molecular techniques.

In addition to Dr. Unterwald, CSAR and Temple faculty leading the cores include Toby K. Eisenstein, PhD, Co-Director of CSAR; Martin W. Adler, PhD, MS, CSAR Director (emeritus) and Senior Advisor; Lee-Yuan Liu-Chen, PhD, Professor of Pharmacology and Dermatology; Scott Rawls, PhD, Professor of Pharmacology; Thomas Rogers, PhD, Director of Temple's Center for Inflammation, Translational, and Clinical Lung Research and Professor at the Fels Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Biology; and Mary E. Abood, PhD, Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology.

“NIDA funding has played an important part in allowing CSAR to carry out high-quality, innovative, state-of-the-art research, making Temple a national resource for advancements in the field of addiction biology,” Dr. Unterwald added. “We look forward to another five years of furthering knowledge of the biological foundations of substance abuse and working to develop and bring new treatments to those in need.”