Rat Genetics and Genomics for Psychiatric Disorders and Addiction

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Workshop, June 29, 2015, University of Chicago, Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 East 59th Street, Chicago, IL 60637


Congratulations to the winners of the Best Poster Award!

Katherine McMurray, University of Chicago

Alex Gileta, University of Chicago

Yu-Yu Ren, University of Michigan

Trey Thompson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Sineadh Conway, University of Illinois at Chicago

Shannon Wolfman, University of Chicago



NIDA is supporting cutting edge research in rat genetics and genomics for complex human diseases such as psychiatric disorders and substance use and dependence. Over many decades rat behavioral modeling have provided powerful, ecologically valid tools to study important features of human diseases and drug addiction, due to much more robust rat behavioral traits, more sufficient behavioral repertoire, and longer history of knowledge and understanding of rat biology compared to that of mice.  However, for a long time genetic manipulations in rat have been hindered by the complexity of rat genetics and the lack of rat embryonic stem cell lines. Recently, new advances in gene sequencing, gene editing and other molecular technologies, and the successful creation of pluripotent rat embryonic stem cell lines have opened new possibilities of breakthroughs in rat genetics and genomics for the advancement of psychiatric disorder and substance abuse and dependence research. These include developing new approaches and methodologies for genetic manipulations of neural circuits such as CRE driver strains, rat gene knock-out and/or knock-in models of behavior disorders, high throughput rat genome mapping for vulnerability, as well as whole genome or exome sequencing and quantitative trait loci deep sequencing for defined phenotypes.

This meeting will bring together behavioral geneticists, animal geneticists, stem cell researchers and drug abuse researchers to review the current status and available resources, to hear expert opinions, advice and suggestions on the most significant short and long term goals, as well as difficulties and bottlenecks in rat genetics research. The meeting will help delineate most effective future research directions and promote successful collaborative efforts in rat genetics and genomics for the psychiatric disorder and addiction research community.

This meeting is being supported by NIDA with additional generous support from the University of Chicago’s Grossman Institute for Neuroscience, Quantitative Biology & Human Behavior.

Agenda (click here for PDF version of Agenda with Posters):

Session I: Recent Advances in the Genetics of Substance Abuse and Addiction

This session presents the most recent developments and challenges in behavioral genetics and rat modeling of substance use and dependence.

Poster session. Six best posters will receive $250 prize.

Poster boards (40 x 48 in) will be provided.

Session II: Advances in Rat Genetics and Genomics for Human Disease Modeling

This session provides a rigorous discussion on current advances, opportunities and challenges in rat genetics and genomics in modeling substance use and addiction.


NameAffilliationTalk Title

Amelie Baud, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow
EMBL - European Bioinformatics Institute
The genetic basis of social effects

Mark S. Brodie, Ph.D.

Department of Physiology and Biophysics
University of Illinois at Chicago
Epigenetic regulation of sensitivity to GABA in the ventral
tegmental area during ethanol withdrawal: Histone deacetylase
inhibitors reverse some alcohol-induced brain changes

Aron Geurts, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Physiology Cardiovascular Center
Human and Molecular Genetics Center
Medical College of Wisconsin
Genetic engineering in rat models, progress and challenges
for addiction and behavioral research

David Goldman, M.D.

Senior Investigator
Laboratory of Neurogenetics
Exome of heritable addiction phenotypes and psychiatric

J. David Jentsch, Ph.D.

Psychology Department
Genetic and genomic basis of impulsivity and
drug self-administration in inbred mice

Thomas Jhou, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Department of Neurosciences
Medical University of South Carolina
Heritability of cocaine avoidance behavior in rats,
and its implications for transitioning from occasional
to heavy patterns of drug use

Paul J. Kenny, Ph.D

Ward-Coleman Professor and Chair
Department of Pharmacology & Systems Therapeutics
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Regulation of nicotinic receptor signaling in the rat
habenulo-interpeduncular system

Margaret McCarthy, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair
Department Of Pharmacology
University of Maryland School of Medicine
Epigenetics of sex differences in rat brain

Daniel McGehee, Ph.D.

Committee on Neurobiology
Department of Anesthesia & Critical Care
University of Chicago
Exploring Nicotine-Induced Reward and Aversion with
Optogenetic and Genetic Approaches

T. Celeste Napier, Ph.D.

Director, Center for Compulsive Behavior and Addiction
Professor, Departments of Pharmacology and Psychiatry
Rush University Medical Center
Utility of self-administering HIV-1 transgenic rats to
model addiction HIV/AIDS comorbidity

Abraham A. Palmer, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Human Genetics
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience
University of Chicago
Center for GWAS in outbred rats: current activities and
opportunities for future collaborations

Subhash C. Pandey, Ph.D.

Professor & Director
Neuroscience Alcoholism Research
Department of Psychiatry
University of Illinois at Chicago
Brain epigenetics in anxiety and alcoholism

Marina Wolf, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair
Department of Neuroscience
Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science
Synaptic mechanisms maintaining persistent cocaine craving

Meeting venue:

The meeting will take place in the beautiful Ida Noyes Hall, free lunch and coffee/snacks will be provided.


The closest hotel is Hyatt Place Hotel (5225 S. Harper Ave. Chicago, IL 60615). You can reserve a room at http://chicagosouthuniversity.place.hyatt.com/en/hotel/home.html or by calling 1-888-492-8847.

If you prefer to stay in downtown Chicago, which is approximately 7 miles to the north, you should plan on using a taxi (~$25) or public transit to get to and from the meeting. Details about getting to the University of Chicago campus from airports and from downtown can be found here.


Chicago is serviced by 2 major airports, Midway and O’Hare; Midway, which is a major hub for Southwest Airlines (www.southwest.com) is closer to the University of Chicago. Note that Southwest Airlines is not included in the results from Travleocity, Orbitz, Kayak and most other major search engines.  Details about getting to the University of Chicago campus from airports and from downtown can be found here.

Contact Us:

Abraham Palmer, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Department of Human Genetics, University of Chicago

Oksana Polesskaya, PhD. Scientific Coordinator, Department of Human Genetics, University of Chicago