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Approved research

Brain anatomy and substance use

Principal Investigator: Professor Philipp Koellinger
Approved Research ID: 40830
Approval date: August 31st 2018

Lay summary

We aim to break new grounds in the understanding of the relationship between substance use and brain anatomy. Our study will combine the available brain images in the UKB with information about substance use and genome-wide data. The insights from our research will advance the understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying substance use, and may identify targets of novel treatments and interventions. Importantly, our research design will combine neuroanatomical measures with behavioral and genetic data that will allow addressing questions regarding the direction of causal relationships between brain anatomy and substance use. Furthermore, our findings may yield powerful biomarkers that could be useful for a number of purposes including the identification of individuals at risk before the onset of pathological behavior, providing possibilities for more targeted therapy and prevention strategies. The biomarkers our study will identify can also be used as control variables in randomized control trails, reducing the costs of such trails by decreasing the number of required participants to achieve a given level of statistical power. Finally, the results of our study will contribute to precision medicine and provide new tools to study how specific individuals are expected to react to policies aiming to reduce substance abuse.