The Pilot Projects Core provides a mechanism to provide a limited amount of funding to investigators to collect pilot data for innovative research projects. These projects serve the CTNA by 1) testing hypotheses or addressing methodologic issues central to the CTNA, 2) bringing new investigators into the CTNA and the field of alcoholism research, 3) generating new alcoholism RO1's, 4) enabling CTNA to rapidly adapt to advances in the field, and 5) guiding the next iteration of the CTNA. Pilot Project Proposals are solicited through an open and public solicitation process. Proposal are developed in collaboration with the CTNA Cores (Data Management and Biostatistics, Clinical, Genetics) and refined with feedback from the Executive Committee. The following four studies are proposed for the first two years of CTNA funding: 1) Dana Small, Ph.D. will lead the first human functional neuroimaging (fMRI) study to describe the neural circuitry underlying alcohol-related habit formation. 2) Philip Corlett, Ph.D. will initially conduct a behavior/electrophysiology study and then, building on this, conduct an fMRI study to explore neural mechanisms related to the impact of alcohol-related learning upon attention. 3) Anissa Abi-Dargham, M.D. will conduct the first evaluation of alterations in cortical dopamine release associated with alcohol dependence, using the new radiotracer [11C]FLB457 and positron emission tomorgraphy (PET). We also briefly describe additional outstanding proposals under consideration for the outlying years (3-5) of CTNA.
The Pilot Core substantially extends the CTNA capacity to move rapidly in innovative new directions that enhance the impact of the Center on advancing the understanding of brain mechanisms that drive the human propensity to abuse alcohol and testing novel therapeutic agents based on our this unfolding biology. As a result, the Pilot Core adds value to the overall CTNA missions to provide a scientific foundation for novel prevention and treatment strategies.
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