According to the Minnesota Department of Health, an estimated 450,000 to 500,000 Minnesotans struggle with a substance use disorder. To help address this problem of addiction in Minnesota and beyond, the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has awarded the University of Minnesota $9.9 million to establish the Center for Neural Circuits in Addiction.
An interdisciplinary team of University faculty, students and staff will create tools to transform researchers’ ability to discover how the brain changes with addiction at the Center. Their findings can be leveraged to develop new treatments. The Center for Neural Circuits in Addiction will also raise awareness of the biological basis of addiction.
“We want to emphasize that addiction is not a failure of moral character or will,” said Mark J. Thomas, a professor and director of the Medical Discovery Team on Addiction in the Medical School, who is leading the Center. “It’s a serious and chronic brain-based medical condition in need of much better treatments. Addiction and relapse result from changes to neural circuits through repeated exposure to drugs in some people. The Center will enable researchers and scientist-clinicians to better understand how the circuits that control emotions, motivation and decision-making are altered by addiction and recovery. This is essential to finding new, more effective therapies.”
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