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Translating Alcohol Research: Opportunities and Challenges

More than 20 years ago, Daniel Koshland compared basic with applied research, stating: “Basic research is the type that is not always practical but often leads to great discoveries. Applied research refines these discoveries into useful products” (Koshland 1993). This statement implies that basic science does not have a direct impact on human health and disease or patient outcome but offers the...

Translating Alcohol Research Into Practice - Editor's Note

Translational research helps move basic science and clinical laboratory discoveries toward application in health and medicine. Through controlled experiments, basic scientists use animal models to reproduce disease characteristics caused by an agent—in this case, excessively high exposure to alcohol. Through systematic study and observation, clinical research scientists identify symptomatic and...

Bridging Animal and Human Models: Translating From (and to) Animal Genetics

Alcoholism is a complex disorder arising from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM–IV) (American Psychiatric Association 1994) requires that three of seven criteria be present during a 12-month period for a diagnosis of alcohol dependence. These criteria are tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, loss of control...

Genetic and Genomic Web Resources for Research on Alcohol Use and Abuse

There are two major ways of publishing scientific data and results: (1) the standard peer-reviewed paper, which dates back to volume 1 of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society in 1665; and (2) online distribution of data, resources, and software using the Internet that dates back a mere 21 years to the first Web site at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)...

A Watershed Year for an Update on the Genetics of Alcoholism

It is easy to think of genetics as the study of genes, but given our current knowledge of genetics, this definition is now considered inadequate. Genetics is the study of differences among individuals—even between identical twins. We know that some differences between individuals are linked to variations in DNA sequence (i.e., the genome), but most differences actually are caused by complex...

Alcohol's Effect on Host Defense

Alcohol has been the most common substance of use and abuse in human history. Moderate amounts of alcohol are enjoyed for its anxiolytic effects; however, its addictive properties can lead to chronic, excessive alcohol use and alcohol use disorder. In addition to its commonly recognized behavioral effects, alcohol affects many organs, including the immune system that controls the body’s defense...

Alcohol Use As a Risk Factor in Infections and Healing: A Clinician's Perspective

Alcohol use and misuse have been part of human society for centuries. Early physicians recognized since the 1800s that alcohol produced not only impairment of the senses but also higher predisposition for tuberculosis. William Osler, the father of scientific medicine, reported in 1905 that patients who misused alcohol had higher predisposition to pneumonia (Osler 2001).

Between 2006 and 2010...

Alcohol’s Effects on the Brain: Neuroimaging Results in Humans and Animal Models

Brain imaging technology has allowed researchers to conduct rigorous studies of the dynamic course of alcoholism through periods of drinking, sobriety, and relapse and to gain insights into the effects of chronic alcoholism on the human brain. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies have distinguished alcohol-related brain effects that are permanent from those that are reversible with abstinence...

Uniting Epidemiology and Experimental Disease Models for Alcohol-Related Pancreatic Disease

Findings from epidemiologic studies and research with experimental animal models provide insights into alcohol-related disease pathogeneses. Epidemiologic data indicate that heavy drinking and smoking are associated with high rates of pancreatic disease. Less clear is the association between lower levels of drinking and pancreatitis. Intriguingly, a very low percentage of drinkers develop clinical...