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UB researcher among first to receive NIH stimulus funding

By Kathleen Weaver

Release Date: June 11, 2009

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Jerry Richards has received stimulus funding to study the relationship between impulsivity and drug abuse, research that will support several laboratory positions.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A University at Buffalo addictions researcher is among the first in the country to receive National Institutes of Health (NIH) stimulus funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The two-year $431,000 grant will support several laboratory positions while accelerating research into the relationship between impulsivity and drug abuse. The recovery act seeks to create or save more than 3.5 million jobs over the next two years.

"This award will support research into a novel approach of understanding about how negative consequences influence consumption of drug and non-drug rewards," according to Jerry Richards, Ph.D., principal investigator on the study.

Richards' expertise is in psychobiology and he is a research scientist at UB's Research Institute on Addiction, research associate professor in the Department of Psychology and assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. "This award quickens the pace of my larger research program and will answer important questions about the relationship between the positive, euphoric consequences of drug taking and the often delayed, negative consequences associated with drug taking."

Beyond the progress of science itself, the National Institute on Drug Abuse award also will support unique educational and economic opportunities for UB students and young scientists. It will allow, for example, the full-time employment of Amy Gancarz, a doctoral student in psychobiology pursuing a career in research. Additional students will be hired part time to work in the laboratory, allowing them to continue their education while gaining laboratory research experience.

"This award is creating new jobs, providing educational opportunities for students and young scientists and providing funds for purchasing a variety of laboratory supplies," Richards noted.

The research and related opportunities exemplify RIA's almost 40 years of contributions to addictions research and the University at Buffalo's role as an economic engine in the Buffalo Niagara region.

The research team includes neuroscientist Alexis C. Thompson, Ph.D., as co-investigator. Thompson is a research scientist at RIA and research associate professor in UB's Department of Psychology.

The Research Institute on Addictions has been a national leader in the study of addictions since 1970 and a research center of the University at Buffalo since 1999.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world's research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs of abuse and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found on the NIDA home page at http://www.drugabuse.gov.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) -- the nation's medical research agency -- includes 27 institutes and centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.

For information on the NIH's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding, visit http://grants.nih.gov/recovery/. To track the progress of Health and Human Services activities funded through the recovery act, visit http://www.hhs.gov/recovery. To track all federal funds provided through the recovery act, visit http://www.recovery.gov/.