MIDDLEBURY, Vt.—Clarissa Parker, assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience, has received a research grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse through the National Institute of Health’s R15 AREA program.

The grant provides three years of funding to support a project titled “Genome-Wide Association for Affective Withdrawal in Outbred Mice,” which will support research assistantships for six Middlebury undergraduate students.

The goal of this work is to use a highly recombinant mouse population to map genes in mice associated with the behavioral and physiological traits that characterize drug withdrawal. A better understanding of the pathways linking genetic variation and expression to neuronal function and behavior in mice may provide novel insights that inform the prevention and treatment of drug use disorders in humans.

In July, Parker and one other author published a groundbreaking study in the journal Nature Genetics that detailed new methods that two novel genes in mice were associated with methamphetamine sensitivity and anxiety-like behavior.

Parker joined the Middlebury faculty in 2013. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Colorado College and a Ph.D. in psychology (with a concentration in neuroscience and a certificate in behavioral genetics) from the University of Colorado.