Determining Genetic Factors that Contribute to Alcoholism in Women
Jaakko Lappalainen, M.D., Ph.D.,Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
Alcoholism is common, debilitating and genetically influenced. A portion of the genetic risk is due to genes that affect primarily women, but not men. Dr. Jaakko Lappalainen pursued the identification of sex-specific genes in order to understand the development of alcoholism in women, and facilitate treatment and prevention strategies for women and men.
Highlighted Study Findings
Genetic research requires systematic testing of specific genes to determine the impact of genetic contributions to any given disorder. Previous research suggests that genetic factors involved in the risk to develop alcoholism may be sex-specific, in that either women may have different genes than men that predispose them to alcoholism or the effect of the same genes may be different in women and men. The success of this project is found in ruling out specific genes that were believed to have an impact on alcoholism in women. Dr. Lappalainen’s results also contributed to an increase in public awareness about the impact of biological factors on alcoholism, often considered a condition with solely behavioral etiologies.
Pilot Project Study was funded in 2001, Dr. Lappalainen is now in Delaware