Problematic, clinically-impairing substance use results from interactions between vulnerability factors (including, but not limited to: sex and genetics), development and experience with the pharmacological effects of the abused drug. These complex interactions can be studied in a rigorous manner using advanced mouse models that capture extreme genetic diversity, allow for controlled, developmentally-targeted drug exposure(s) and that enable mechanistic dissection of the biological processes that influence the response of an individual to the drug. In my lecture, I will review a series of studies that elucidate how genetic variation can be related to addiction vulnerability and how intermediate biological processes can be identified that explain this set of genotype-behavioral phenotype relationships. How the results of these research efforts can lead to evidence-based prevention efforts will also be discussed.
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