Consortium Studying Marijuana’s Effects Receives $500,000 Grant
Center for BrainHealth, Three Universities Partnering to Collect, Share Data for Addiction, Drug Abuse Research
Dr. Francesca Filbey
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has awarded a $500,000 grant to fund the Imaging Data in Emerging Adults with Addiction (IDEAA) Consortium — a large marijuana research data collection undertaking.
UT Dallas’ Center for BrainHealth is partnering with Harvard University, the University of California, San Diego and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to gain a greater scientific understanding of marijuana and its effects.
“As part of the consortium, we will collect and pool brain-imaging data from marijuana users and nonusers, focusing on regions that control rational decisions and emotional responses,” said Dr. Francesca Filbey, associate professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences and director of cognitive neuroscience research of addictive behaviors at the Center for BrainHealth. “In healthy individuals, these highly interconnected regions maintain a balance. However, in individuals suffering from addiction, emotions and cravings can overturn reasoning and hijack decision-making.”
Filbey’s team will process the consortium’s imaging data investigating the brain at rest. The consortium will help answer the larger questions of marijuana addiction: What are the risk factors that leave some more vulnerable to addiction? What are the detrimental effects of marijuana? What factors promote brain healing and addiction recovery?
“Perhaps most important, the IDEAA Consortium will give investigators the power to detect large and small differences, which will promote the discovery of new treatments.”
Each IDEAA consortium partner will collect a uniform set of neuroimaging measures and will share data on a central IDEAA server, where it will be analyzed. The compiled results will culminate in a large dataset of adolescent to emerging adult marijuana users.
“Researchers are often kept from answering some bigger questions due to the limitations of smaller neuroimaging studies,” said Tim McQueeny, a research associate who recently joined Filbey’s team to help support the new initiative. “The consortium reduces many of those restrictions.”
Large datasets that are too costly for one research site to accrue will now be available to all four institutions. The combined data represents all regions of the nation, and can therefore be generalizable.
“Perhaps most important, the IDEAA Consortium will give investigators the power to detect large and small differences, which will promote the discovery of new treatments,” McQueeny said.
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