Uncovering the Genes at the Foundation of Alcohol Dependence


One of 22 research centers funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the Portland Alcohol Research Center (PARC) focuses on uncovering the genetics of how the brain adapts to alcohol.

The PARC supports the coordinated research efforts of 17 scientists at the Portland Veteran Affairs Medical Center and Oregon Health & Science University in areas ranging from behavioral neuroscience to molecular biology.

OHSU Equity Summer Internships for undergraduate college students 2021

Since 2003 the PARC has funded 8-week internships for students who are interested in advanced graduate study in health sciences, and who come from socially or economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Due to the 2020 pandemic, the Equity Program was suspended for the summer of 2020, but has now resumed! The Equity program is administered by the OHSU Center for Diversity and Inclusion. For Summer 2021, students Chivon Ou and Michael Parrish were hosted by the following PARC investigators:

Marina Guzzetti

Rita Cervera Juanes

ASE Summer Internships 2021

The Apprenticeships in Science & Engineering (ASE) program connects motivated high school students with mentors in STEM fields. Tamara Phillips-Richards hosted an ASE intern for the summer of 2021.

Fellowship opportunities

The PARC offers training opportunities to graduate and post-graduate students interested in alcohol-abuse research. For details on current opportunities, please visit the OHSU Department of Behavioral Neuroscience

Junior and new investigator awarded grants derived from PARC support

The PARC has provided financial, mentoring, equipment, space, animal models, supplies, expert advice, databases, and other resources to junior scientists and to scientists new to alcohol research with the result that they have received individual funding to support their work and professional development. This helps fulfill the Center’s NIH mandate to be a resource to the broader local community and to the field of alcohol research and neuroscience in general.

Table of grants, principal investigators, and annual direct costs available here

"Tell Your Story! A Media and Communications Guide for Scientists"

Strategies and practical tools to help scientists share their work effectively with the media and in presentations to the general public.

Free download available here

News and Awards

Article Spotlight 2023

Dr. Kolter Grigsby, a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of PARC scientist, Angela Ozburn Ph.D., recently published “Pre-clinical and clinical evidence for suppression of alcohol intake by apremilast” in the Journal of Clinical Investigations (https://doi.org/10.1172/JCI159103).  This exciting work is the result of a multiple lab collaboration that promises to move science from the bench to the clinic. Because of these collaborative efforts, NIAAA is pursuing multi-center clinical trials for apremilast as a potential therapeutic for Alcohol Use Disorder as discussed in an accompanying Nature News report (https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-00233-8). Check out the interview on OHSU News for more details (https://news.ohsu.edu/2023/02/21/pill-for-skin-disease-also-curbs-excessive-drinking).

Research Society on Alcoholism Marlatt Mentorship Award 2020

Chris Cunningham, PARC Investigator, is the recipient of the 2020 Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) Marlatt Mentorship Award which recognizes Dr. Cunningham for outstanding career-long mentoring of young scientists in the field of alcohol research. RSA usually presents the award at the society's annual meeting. This year as the meeting was canceled due to pandemic conditions, RSA conferred the award by online announcement to the Society's membership, and the wider community.

American Association for the Advancement of Science elected Fellow 2019

John Crabbe, current Portland Alcohol Research Center (PARC) Co-Investigator and former Center Director, was elected as a 2018 and 2019 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in recognition of extraordinary achievements in science. 

International Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism President 2019

Tamara Richards (aka Tamara Phillips), PARC Center Director, began her term as President of the International Society on Biomedical Research on Alcoholism (ISBRA) in 2018. She is the first woman to hold this position. The Society promotes research, training, and dissemination of information on alcoholism and alcohol-related biomedical phenomena, for the benefit of individuals and to inform national and international agencies on alcohol-related research and policy. ISBRA last met in Kyoto, Japan, September 9-13, 2018.

Bowles Lectureship Award 2018, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Bowles Award 2018
Dr. Phillips, center, receiving the 2018 Bowles Award, from Drs. Leslie Morrow (left,) and Fulton Crews.

Tamara Richards (aka Tamara Phillips), PARC Center Director, received the Bowles Lectureship Award from the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in recognition of her distinguished career and research on alcoholism and alcohol abuse. Her remarkable research discoveries on the genetic dissection of behavioral traits associated with risk for the development of alcoholism and drug abuse were noted at the award ceremony. Her discoveries also include brain and behavioral mechanisms of alcohol, nicotine, and methamphetamine addiction including acute and chronic effects associated with drug reward and behavioral sensitivity. Dr. Phillips presented a lecture entitled "The rough road to identification of genes that impact substance use disorders."

Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study award

Former PARC PIs Bonnie Nagel and Damien Fair, along with Sarah Feldstein Ewing (Child and Adolescent Psychiatry), are part of a new long-term National Institutes of Health multi-site study tracking the effects of adolescent substance abuse on the developing brain. The ABCD Study begins with approximately 10,000 children at age 9-10 years old from across the the United States, and follows the children through adolescence, tracking substance use, academic achievement, mental health, brain structure and function, and other developmental elements.

American Medical Women's Association Leadership Award 2018

Mollie Marr, M.D./Ph.D. student in the Fair Lab, received the American Medical Women's Association (AMWA) Anne C. Carter Leadership Award in recognition of her outstanding student leadership in AMWA. She was one of the founding members of her school's AMWA branch and is currently one of the Executive Chairs.