Research

The University of Michigan Addiction Center (UMAC) conducts clinical and basic research that examines the biological underpinnings of substance use and substance use disorders. UMAC also studies the social and contextual factors that contribute to development, prevention, early intervention, treatment and the recovery of substance abuse.

Ongoing research, involving more than 25 different National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded studies, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Department of Defense studies, and Department of Veterans Affairs studies, focuses in six areas at UMARC:

  • Prevention and early intervention studies
  • Developmental psychopathology and genetics
  • Neuroimaging and neurophysiology
  • Intervention including treatment and recovery
  • Health services research
  • Relationship of sleep problems and/or chronic pain to the treatment of substance use disorders

Our faculty is invested in the long-term policy issues related to substance use disorders and related medical conditions. We come to work every day hoping to help better the lives of our patients and their families.

Research Collaborations

Extra-Departmental Relationships

The Addiction Center and its faculty sustain ties with numerous organizations and operating structures within and outside the University of Michigan (UM). Such relationships are essential to our ongoing mission; they allow the development of a scientific agenda that would not be possible without such collaborations, and they provide a set of clinical opportunities that enhance training activity and allow treatment evaluation studies to recruit patients as subjects. Foremost among these are: (a) UM Addiction Treatment Services (UMATS), the Addiction Center's clinical arm; and (b) the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System (VAHCS). A number of faculty hold appointments with both institutions. The VAHCS operates an outpatient Substance Use Disorders Clinic (SUDC) as well as a Substance Use Disorders Intensive Outpatient Program (SUD-IOP). The VA Ann Arbor is actively involved in clinical program research as well as several VA/DOD funded randomized clinical trials.

In addition to these relationships, the Addiction Center has ongoing research and/or clinical collaborations/projects with a large number of departments and centers at University of Michigan. These relationships establish connections with entities both within the UM Medical School/Health System as well as outside of it, including long-standing collaborations with Michigan State University, the University of Arkansas Medical Center, the Oregon Health & Science University, and the University of Idaho.

Program Collaborative Relationships Within the University of Michigan

Program Collaborations Outside of the University

Resources and Environment

Research Sponsors

Numerous sponsoring and collaborating institutions make the research at University of Michigan Addiction Center possible. Research is funded primarily by National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and by private foundations and internal university grants. The Department of Psychiatry sustains the infrastructure of the Addiction Center as a vital part of the Program’s operations. This includes provision of space and an administrative and grants management staff. To give some sense of the size of the footprint, substance abuse funding managed by the Addiction Center, is typically over eight million dollars annually. Not included in this annual eight million dollars are many of the Addiction Center faculty’s funded research projects that are funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs and are conducted at the Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Clinical Support Structure and Resources

University of Michigan Addiction Treatment Services (UMATS), the clinical branch of the program, provides clinical care, professional training, and conducts research in the area of substance use disorders. It operates within the Department of Psychiatry's Ambulatory Care Unit. UMATS is led by Executive Director is Kirk J. Brower, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry. The main facility for UMATS is located in the Rachel Upjohn Building on the East Medical Campus of the University of Michigan.

The UMATS facilities provide a balance of treatment modalities, levels of care, and case mix. Treatment services include Intake and Assessment, Intensive Outpatient Programs for adolescents and adults (including outpatient detoxification services), and regular outpatient services for both adolescents and adults (individual, group, and family therapies). In addition to these services, while not under the program's administrative umbrella, faculty at the Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs Medical Center has close ties to Program operations. They participate equally in the training of psychiatry residents in substance use disorders, provide clinical services to VA patients, and serve as one of the program's research resources for recruitment of patients with substance use disorder diagnoses. Staff contributes to the ongoing educational activities of the program and the department. Further, the VA Ann Arbor provides clinical training rotations in substance use disorders as part of American Psychological Association -accredited psychology internship and postdoctoral fellow training programs, and an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education -accredited fellowship program in addiction psychiatry. The substance use disorders clinical services include empirically based approaches for addiction psychiatry and psychosocial interventions.

Research Space

In addition to the clinical settings described above, the offices of the Addiction Center occupy two different locations at the University of Michigan. The Center's research space at the Rachel Upjohn Building on the East Ann Arbor Medical Campus is 5,220 square feet. The Center also occupies 1,065 square feet in the University of Michigan’s North Campus Research Complex (NCRC). At the Rachel Upjohn Building, the Addiction Center has office, meeting, library, archival, data collection, data management, and computational space. The Addiction Center also has a number of conference rooms where scientific staff meetings take place. These meeting rooms also serve as interview anddata collection offices. The Rachel Upjohn Building also houses a mock scanner for acclimating children to the fMRI environment.

North Campus Research Center

The North Campus Research Center (NCRC) is comprised of 28 buildings with 2.1 million square feet of office space and 174 acres of land. The NCRC houses several health research groups, encouraging the development of collaborative research relationships and projects. The facilities include state-of-the-art teleconferencing tools and equipment that allow for collaborative effort in shared workspaces. The space also includes offices for investigators and research support staff, and a number of conference rooms for meetings.

The program also maintains a research site at the University of Michigan-Michigan State University (UM-MSU) Family Study site in East Lansing, Michigan. The East Lansing site is located in the Hannah Technology and Research Center, an office facility adjacent to the MSU campus, and approximately 60 miles from the Rachel Upjohn Building. This is a specially designed facility containing 10 offices and five carrels. It houses the Michigan Longitudinal Study data collection/assessment activity and is the base for 25 full and part-time research staff. Recruitment, assessment and follow-up staff carry out these activities at the site.

The Addiction Center is a highly synergistic environment with opportunity for collaboration across all areas of psychiatry in several locations in southeast Michigan.

Major Research Themes

The Addiction Center's research efforts are focused in six major thematic areas that range from molecular genetics and computational neuroscience. Within these six areas, a number of projects, both full scale, and at the pilot level, are ongoing.

Each of the research themes is briefly described below, and a list of faculty involved is presented.

1. Prevention and Early Intervention: involving the conduct of randomized controlled trials to evaluate the efficacy of screening and early intervention protocols for adolescents and young adults for alcohol, other drugs, and violence, including family based interventions for at-risk children. Faculty: Barry, Blow, Bohnert A., Bohnert K., Bonar, Chermack, Cranford, Jester, Walton, Zucker

2. Developmental Psychopathology and Genetics: including studies on the identification of genetic, neuropsychological, and psychosocial factors that contribute to alcoholism and other drug abuse across different segments of the life span. Other work in this area is focused on characterization of developmental course with a special interest in heterogenity of the addictive risk on phenotype. Faculty: Brower, Burmeister, Heitzeg, Hicks, Jester, Shedden, Zucker

3. Neuroimaging and Neurophysiology: this program of research is carried out in collaboration with investigators from the UM Molecular and Behavioral Neurosciences Institute and the University's Functional MRI Laboratory. Current fMRI and PET studies are looking at the relationships of brain activation patterns to genetic risk and prior behavioral risk, relationships to neurocognitive functioning, and to substance use and abuse outcomes for nicotine, alcohol, and illicit drugs. Faculty: Brower, Heitzeg, Morrow, Zucker

4. Intervention Including Treatment and Recovery: involving course predictors, effectiveness, and medication development studies; these studies target patients with substance use disorders, tracking their course of illness during and following treatment interventions; naturalistic treatment outcome studies are used to identify biological, psychosocial, cultural, spiritual and ethnic factors that influence or protect against subsequent drug use and relapse; Biological factors of particular interest include genetic markers of the GABA and serotonin systems and sleep physiology. Faculty: Barry, Blow, Bonar, Brower, Chermack, Cranford, Ilgen, Walton, Zucker

5. Health Services Research: involving research on the health services outcomes of treatment and documentation of differences in clinical manifestations and course of different population subgroups. Faculty: Barry, Blow, Bohnert A., Bohnert K., Bonar, Chermack, Ilgen, Walton, Zucker

6. Relationship of Sleep Problems and/or Chronic Pain to the Treatment of Substance Use Disorders: involves studies of the 1) effects of sleep problems on course of alcoholism and relapse, 2) role of sleep disturbances in the etiology of substance use disorders, 3) characteristics of chronobiological variation in earlier life as predictors of later substance use and abuse and 4) interrelationships between pain, medications used to treat pain and substance use; 5) use of opioids and the prevention of adverse outcomes, e.g., overdose; and 5) development and testing of novel interventions to address co-occurring chronic pain and substance use disorders. Faculty: Bohnert A., Brower, Conroy, Heitzeg, Ilgen, Zucker