University of Missouri, Columbia

Principal Investigator: Wendy S. Slutske, PhD

Award: $396,559 in 2017

Only about 10% of individuals with disordered gambling (DG) seek treatment and there is evidence that studies based on this treatment-seeking minority may not generalize to the larger population of those with DG in the community. A challenge to conducting community-based studies of DG is the fact that it is relatively rare. In this proposed Center of Excellence we have taken on this challenge by assembling a unique suite of six community-based studies of DG along with a team of investigators who have the requisite expertise to interrogate these data. Together, these projects will move us forward in answering the following pressing questions about the etiology and epidemiology of DG: (1) is living in a disadvantaged neighborhood a (potentially malleable) environmental cause of DG?, (2) where among the ~20,000 genes in the human genome are the variants associated with the risk for DG? (3) do the genetic variants associated with DG overlap with the genetic variants associated with the risk for alcohol, nicotine, and cannabis use disorders and individual differences in personality traits?, (4) what is the long-term stability of DG, and (5) are the correlates of DG similar across the lifespan (i.e. in the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s)? The projects include secondary analyses of data from (a) two Australian twin cohorts (with a high prevalence of DG), (b) a large longitudinal study conducted in the UK, (c) a large longitudinal study conducted in the US (d) a large Swedish epidemiologic study (the largest community-based study of DG yet conducted), and (e) a large longitudinal study of a complete New Zealand birth cohort (the longest longitudinal follow-up of DG yet conducted). The availability of these valuable and unique datasets will allow us to conduct impactful research at very low cost.

The Center of Excellence will be based in the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Missouri, which has more tenured faculty members with a focus on addictions research than any other psychology department in the world. The addictions faculty have already established a successful program for training the next generation of addictions scholars, primarily focused on alcohol. We will expand the scope of this training program to also provide training in research on DG. Historically, gambling research at the University of Missouri has been widely cited by the scientific community (over 2,000 citations in 2000-2016) as well as by the mass media (e.g., stories in Time, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal). We will maintain this tradition and seek out improved methods of disseminating our research findings through the involvement of our home department and the University of Missouri News Bureau.

Year: 2017
Type: Centers of Excellence