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Federal stimulus funds kick-start addiction researcher's project

June 17, 2009
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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The new source of support will accelerate a study of impulsivity

Jerry Richards, PhD, a research scientist at the Research Institute on Addictions, considers himself the beneficiary of a “lucky coincidence” brought about by the federal government. The University at Buffalo researcher recently learned that a project for which he had sought federal support some time ago was about to kick into gear courtesy of the federal stimulus initiative—and very quickly.

“Usually you might wait four months for a project to start after it’s been approved,” says Richards. “Here, the grant started the next day.” But it’s a good problem to have for Richards, who had applied for National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) funding for his research to examine impulsivity’s connection with addiction.

Richards’ proposal had received a good score but not one high enough to receive funding immediately. “When stimulus funds became available, my program officer at NIDA suggested that we look at that,” he says.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) is supporting a variety efforts to create and save jobs, and the $431,000 grant for Richards’ project will allow for maintaining several positions, including full-time employment of a doctoral student in psychobiology who has been working in Richards’ lab for several years. Richards does not know whether this factor played a major role in his program’s receiving federal stimulus money.

Other factors also positioned Richards’ proposal well for the ARRA funding support. Unlike many longer research projects, this one is a two-year study, matching the duration of funding support in the stimulus legislation.

“Most likely this project would eventually have been funded, but this way it’s happening right now,” Richards says.

The study, using rodents, will create a controlled environment in which to test how immediate and delayed consequences affect drug-using behavior. In a statement from the institute, Richards says, “This award quickens the pace of my larger research program and will answer important questions about the relationship between the positive, euphoric consequences of drug taking and the often delayed, negative consequences associated with drug taking.”

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