Picture of head researcher, Jun Wang, MD, in his laboratory

Texas A&M researcher named STAT Madness contender

Voting to support alcoholism research in the first round March 4 - 7
March 4, 2019

STAT News selected a project from the Texas A&M University Health Science Center to participate in the annual STAT Madness competition. STAT Madness is a bracket-style contest that celebrates the best ideas in biomedical science published in the past year.

Much like the bracket for the NCAA March Madness tournament, this bracket is filled with match ups of pioneering research projects from top research institutes and universities around the country. People can vote for their favorite, and the winner of the popular vote will advance to the next round. The first round of voting begins on March 4.

One of the 64 projects STAT News selected this year was a project from Jun Wang, MD, PhD, and his team at the Texas A&M College of Medicine. Their study explored a potential way to reverse alcohol use disorder. About 15.1 million American adults have alcohol use disorder, and 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes each year.

Their research found alcohol-seeking behavior may be induced by altering the strength of connections between particular neurons. Wang and his team were able to induce alcoholism in animal models, then persistently increase or decrease alcohol-seeking behavior by changing strength of synaptic connections using an approach called optogenetics.

“We hope to develop an approach that can permanently reverse alcohol-induced changes to the brain, and ultimately cure alcohol use disorder in the future,” said Wang.

To show support for Wang’s research to end alcoholism, click here to vote in the STAT Madness competition. Voting for the first round opens March 4 and ends March 7.

— Mary Leigh Meyer

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