OHSU Receives $4 Million for State-of-the-Art Imaging System to Study Drug Addiction and Treatment

08/28/01    Portland, Ore.

Federal drug control officials to visit OHSU for presentation

WHAT:    

OHSU receives $4 million to purchase MRI system for substance abuse research


WHO:

Albert Brandenstein, Ph.D., director of the Counterdrug Technology Assessment Center, Office of National Drug Control Policy; James Petrousky, White House Drug Policy Office; and Jeri Janowsky, Ph.D., OHSU professor of neurology, School of Medicine


WHEN:

11:15 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2001

WHERE:    

OHSU Hatfield Research Center, Room 9D52

Oregon Health & Science University will receive $4 million from the Office of National Drug Control Policy's (ONDCP) Counterdrug Technology Assessment Center (CTAC) to purchase a high-power magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system and other equipment to investigate the neurological effects of drug abuse. The ONDCP establishes policies, priorities and objectives for the nation's drug control program, the goals of which are to reduce illicit drug use, manufacturing and trafficking; drug-related crime and violence; and drug-related health consequences.

"OHSU researchers are important players in a national effort to use advanced technology to find better ways to prevent and treat drug abuse," said Albert Brandenstein, Ph.D., CTAC director.

MRI is a noninvasive technology that can be used to study anatomy, function and neurochemistry in human and animal subjects. MRI creates three-dimensional, high-resolution pictures of the body through the use of a magnetic field. OHSU currently has two MRIs that it uses for clinical and research applications. The new machine is twice as powerful.

OHSU will use the high-tech imaging system to further research into how drug use affects the brain. Specific projects include:

Effects of anabolic steroids on the brain -- While anabolic steroids can be used to increase muscle mass for wasting illnesses, adolescents and adults often abuse the drugs. These steroids have been linked to cardiovascular and musculoskeletal problems, as well as liver disease. Other symptoms include mood disorders, aggression and psychiatric problems, but there is not yet a precise understanding of the drugs' impacts on the brain.

Effects of chronic methamphetamine and cocaine abuse -- Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug that has become a major problem in the Northwest. Cocaine abuse during pregnancy presents another major health problem. However, little is known about the neurological impacts on infants subjected to maternal drug abuse. OHSU researchers will study the neurotoxic impacts of both these drugs.

Risk-promoting and protective genes for methamphetamine abuse -- Genes can affect an individual's sensitivity to abused substances. OHSU researchers will study the relationship between brain metabolism changes that can be detected using MRI and genetic variations in people to identify genes that may predispose one to addiction.

The new MRI system will be the centerpiece of the OHSU Advanced Imaging Research Center, a new facility that will be split between OHSU's main campus and its West Campus in Hillsboro. Completion is slated for 2003.

"The imaging center will be of great benefit to scientists spanning multiple disciplines," said Jeri Janowsky, Ph.D., professor of neurology and behavioral neuroscience in OHSU's School of Medicine. Using rapidly advancing technology, researchers hope to understand and cure disease by studying the structure and function of normal tissue compared with diseased tissue.

"With the increased value of MRI imaging in health research and the tremendous advancements in this technology, we realize it is now necessary for the university to build a dedicated imaging research facility," said Janowsky. The center will be the only one of its kind in the Northwest and one of four research centers nationwide supported by ONDCP.

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