Uncovering the Genes at the Foundation of Alcohol Dependence


One of 20 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 15 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 2019

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. The Equity program is administered by the OHSU Center for Diversity and Inclusion. For Summer 2019, students hosted by PARC include:

Virginia Fuhrmark, Southern Oregon University, mentored by PI Tamara Phillips

Bret Gilbert, University of Oregon, mentored by PI Robert Hitzemann

Eduardo Tellez, Lewis and Clark College, mentored by PI Kari Buck

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

"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

American Association for the Advancement of Science elected Fellow

John Crabbe, current Portland Alcohol Research Center (PARC) Co-Investigator and former Center Director, was elected as a 2018 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in recognition of extraordinary achievements in science. Dr. Crabbe will be recognized at the 2019 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., on February 16.

International Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism President 2019

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 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, 2015-2020

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.

Sigma Xi award 2017

The Columbia-Willamette Chapter of Sigma Xi honored Mark Rutledge-Gorman, PARC Information and Dissemination Core Director, with its Supporter of Research Award for Dr. Rutledge-Gorman's work bringing research results on alcohol and drug-related problems to the general public, and in particular to K-12 students and teachers.

Society for Neuroscience Early Career Policy Ambassador 2017

Mollie Marr, M.D./Ph.D. student in the Fair Lab, was selected as a Society for Neuroscience (SfN) Ambassador, and as such received training in advocacy for science and how to encourage the same in others. She participated in Capitol Hill Day, talking science in legislative offices, and conducting advocacy activities in Oregon.

Society for Neuroscience Patricia Goldman-Rakic Hall of Honor 2017

Mark Rutledge-Gorman, PARC Information and Dissemination Core Director, accepted on behalf of his family and in honor of his late sister Dr. Nancy Rutledge Zahniser the Society for Neuroscience's (SfN)  Goldman-Rakic Award. SfN bestowed the honor during the annual Celebration of Women in Neuroscience Luncheon. The award posthumously recognizes a neuroscientist who has pursued career excellence and exhibited dedication to the advancement of women in neuroscience. Dr. Zahniser's colleagues, friends, and family also have endowed The Nancy Rutledge Zahniser Fund which helps up to five trainees per year to travel to SfN's annual meeting.

Research Society on Alcoholism Past-President 2016

Tamara Phillips, PARC Center Director, completed her three-year term as President-elect/President/Past-President of the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) at the Society's 2016 annual meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana.  RSA is the world's largest research society devoted to study and treatment of alcohol-related problems.

64th Annual Nebraska Symposium on Motivation 2016, Impulsivity: How Time and Risk Influence Decision Making

PARC PI Suzanne Mitchell was honored at the Nebraska Symposium, presenting a talk on Impulsivity and effort-related decision-making in psychopathology. This leading symposium on motivation has been sponsored by the Department of Psychology at the University of Nebraska since 1953.

Research Society on Alcoholism Marlatt Mentorship Award 2015

John Crabbe, PARC Investigator, is the recipient of the 2015 Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) Marlatt Mentorship Award which recognizes Dr. Crabbe for exceptional mentoring of young scientists in the field of alcohol research. RSA President Tamara Phillips presented the award at the annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas. Dr. Phillips as a postdoctoral fellow was mentored by Dr. Crabbe.

Research Society on Alcoholism O'Neill Addiction Science Education Award 2015

John Harkness, graduate student mentored by Tamara Phillips, presented the 2015 Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) O'Neill Addiction Science Education Award talk, entitled "The Northwest Addiction and Neuroscience Education Collaboration," at the Society's annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

Research Society on Alcoholism Enoch Gordis Research Recognition Award 2015

Melanie Pina, graduate student mentored by PARC Investigator Chris Cunningham, received the 2015 Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) Enoch Gordis Research Recognition Award. The award was conferred by the RSA Education Committee at the 39th annual RSA meeting in San Antonio, Texas, following a competitive talk session of award finalists. Ms. Pina's winning presentation was on "Regulation of Ethanol Conditioned Place Preference by the Bed Nucleus of the Stria Terminalis."