Announcing the Spring 2023 RARC Pilot Grant Program Awardees!

We are excited to announce the following three awards:

David Barker (Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychology, School of Arts and Sciences) & Zhiping Pang (Professor, Dept. of Neuroscience & Cell Biology, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School)

Title: Developing a targeted pharmacotherapy for pain without abuse liability
Project Goal: The overall goal of this study is to develop a pharmacological target for a receptor that we have found to be highly and specifically expressed within the lateral habenula at the site of lateral preoptic area innervations in order to develop a therapeutic which uncouples pain relief from reward, thereby mitigating the risk for abuse, addiction, or overdose.

Sarah Brislin (Instructor, Dept. of Psychiatry, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School) & David Zald (Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School)

Title: Identifying transdiagnostic versus specific genetic, environmental, and neural risk factors for addictive disorders 
Project Goal: This project will collect data from a clinically diverse group of adults and map genetic, neural, and environmental risk factors onto shared and unique variance among addictive disorders while also examining associations with treatment outcomes. 

Jiang Ye (Professor, Dept. of Anesthesiology, New Jersey Medical School) & Vanessa Routh (Professor, Dept. of Pharmacology, Physiology & Neuroscience, New Jersey Medical School)

Title: A role for the habenula glucose-inhibited (GI) neurons in opioid addiction
Project Goal: The research project aims to clarify the mechanisms underlying the association between food insecurity and Opioid Use Disorder and to identify new targets for treatment. The study will determine the impact of food restriction on anxiety levels, the motivation for fentanyl self-administration, and the role of habenula glucose-inhibited neurons in this association.

Following the procedures outlined in the original announcement, each submission was sent for external review by two reviewers who have served on NIH study sections relevant to the content area of the proposals. Subsequent to receiving the external reviews, members of the RARC leadership team did an internal review of all proposals to further consider the criteria delineated in the RFP, prioritizing MPI applications with PIs from different domains/departments, and who did not have a history of publishing or grants together. We also considered current NIH funding, with prioritization for early career investigators/faculty who do not have current R01 level funding.