The Scripps Research Institute Alcohol Research Center

The Scripps Research Institute ARC

TSRI ARC

Administrative

The Administrative Core (Director Barbara J. Mason, Ph.D. & Scientific Director Marisa Roberto, Ph.D.) coordinates and operates the Center. This core is responsible for leadership of the Center and cores, managing the administration of the Center including the budget, and managing scientific enrichment activities, education activities, and organizing the oversight and input from the Internal Advisory Board and External Advisory Board. The administrative core is also responsible for maintaining a focus on contemporary issues in the field of alcoholism while creating an environment in which innovative and significant work is performed.

Animal Models/Biological Measures

The Animal Models/Biological Measures Core (Director Olivier George, Ph.D. & Remi Martin-Fardon, Ph.D.) has a focus on optimizing the current rodent animal models of dependence (chronic ethanol induced drinking, CEID) and binge drinking (self-administered binge drinking, SABD) in order to obtain a higher face and predictive validity in modeling various characteristics of alcoholism. Efforts are particularly centered on broadening these models to the factors of age, gender, and genetic vulnerability. In addition to further developing and providing guidelines for the animal models, the core also provides alcohol vapor exposure, measurement of blood alcohol levels, and vaginal smears to the research components of our TSRI-ARC and the Center at Large. It also serves as a service unit for providing both neuropharmacological measures (assays) to animal and human investigators in the Center and neuropharmacological ligands for neuropharmacological studies for the animal investigators (neuropharmacoloigcal ligand repository). The core also synthesizes probes that are not commercially available and develop new syntheses for neuropharmacological probes where needed for transiently overactivating or underactivating specific neurochemical systems in specific brain areas. These two developmental functions are critical because many of the neurochemical systems such as NPY, CRF and endocannabinoids do not have selective receptor antagonists and/or agonists.

Viral Vector

Viral Vector Core (Director Candice Contet, Ph.D.) provides vectors to manipulate genes of interest and thereby evaluate their functional contribution to alcohol drinking, withdrawal-associated anxiety, and alcohol-induced neuroplasticity. More specifically, this Core will first characterize several pseudotypes of adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors for their ability to transduce glutamatergic neurons in the basolateral amygdala and ventrotagmental prefrontal cortex (PFC). The Core will then provide custom AAV vectors encoding short-hairpin or micro RNA for local silencing of MAGL and CRF-1. AAV vectors will be provided for local functional knockdown and overexpression of Narp, as well as a reporter-encoding retroviral vector for the purified recombinant viral stocks from an outside production facility, and validate their silencing/overexpression efficienty in vivo before making them available to the TSRI-ARC and Center at Large Investigators.

Education

The overall objective of the Research Translation/Information Dissemination Component of The Scripps Research Institute Alcohol Research Center (TSRI ARC) is to advance NIAAA’s mission to translate and disseminate scientific research findings to researchers, healthcare professionals, policy makers, and the general public. The main goals of the Research Translation/Information Dissemination Component are to (1) develop and evaluate an education program to the high risk Mexican American minority and EuroAmerican communities in San Diego greatly in need of tools to combat underage drinking and alcohol use disorders in their communities and (2) expand the dissemination of knowledge about the scientific findings of the TSRI ARC and their translation to clinical alcohol diagnosis, treatment, and prevention to students, scientific and medical professionals and trainees, and the lay public.