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Zhicheng (Carl) Lin, PhD, associate neurobiologist in McLean’s Laboratory of Psychiatric Neurogenomics and assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, has been awarded a U.S. Fulbright Scholar grant to conduct research on the human genetics of substance use disorders (SUD) in St. Petersburg, Russia. The United States Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board announced the award.
Lin, who has studied the genetics of SUD for the last eight years at McLean, is interested in utilizing rodent models to study SUD-related environmental risks for genetic mechanisms. He plans to start this collaborative Fulbright project in February of 2016.
While SUD remains a major problem in the country, Russia lacks not only mechanistic research, but also fails to recognize SUD as a brain disorder.
“Through a Fulbright Scholar award, we can help increase the awareness of SUD as a brain disorder by teaching human genetics on related topics and establishing collaborations to identify risk factors in Russia,” said Lin. “The long-term goal is to delineate modern etiology of SUD and facilitate development of individualized treatment at a global level.”
Lin’s research at McLean centers on molecular neuropharmacology and the human genetics of the dopamine system. His work uses various models to explore genetic factors that contribute to the risk of developing certain mental health conditions, especially substance use disorders, and to identify medication targets.
“Based on the last eight years of research, we realize that identifying modern environmental risks is critical to better understanding the interaction between environment and genetics in the etiology of SUD. Through collaboration with Russian scientists and clinicians through this grant, we can identify some of the current environmental risks and apply them to our animal genetics models in the lab to exploit better treatment strategies for SUD,” said Lin. “Furthermore, this award gives me a great opportunity to increase the awareness of substance abuse as a brain disorder in Russia, one of the top alcohol-consuming countries in the world.”
Lin is one of approximately 800 U.S. faculty and professionals who will travel abroad to over 125 countries worldwide for the 2015-2016 academic year through the Fulbright Scholar Program. Established in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the program’s purpose is to build mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries. The Fulbright Program, America’s flagship international educational exchange activity, is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.