NMARC is a NIAAA-designated Developmental Alcohol Research P20 Center at the UNM Health Sciences Center. The center is comprised of teams of preclinical and clinical scientists with a history of collaborative research interactions whose expertise and contributions have synergized the center's research environment and is facilitating progress towards the achievement of NMARC's three strategic objectives. These objectives are to: 1) Advance our understanding of the teratogenic consequences of fetal alcohol exposure that cause functional brain damage leading to adverse neurobehavioral outcomes. 2) Develop more effective approaches for diagnosing individuals with FASD through the establishment of more sensitive and reliable alcohol biomarkers of alcohol exposure coupled with the use of novel neurobehavioral and functional neuroimaging assessments that can detect functional brain damage earlier in life. 3) Develop more effective neurobehavioral, educational and pharmacotherapeutic interventions tor fetal alcohol-related behavioral deficits. NMARC's prevailing philosophy is that a research center organized to maximize the coordination, communication and synergistic integration across multiple lines of preclinical and clinical investigation provides the best long-term prospect of achieving significant progress towards the dual clinical goals of better diagnosis and more effective interventions for FASD. This P50 grant application contains five research components, each consisting of teams of investigators whose project addresses one or more of NMARC's three strategic objectives. Three core components support the center's research program: 1) A Pilot Project Core with one clinical and two preclinical projects led by investigators new to the FASD research field. 2) A Science Core that supports all NMARC investigators and serves as a forum for catalyzing collaboration and peer group mentoring. 3) An Administrative Core that will provide scientific and administrative leadership for the entire NMARC program along with administrative support and budgetary oversight of the center programs. The Administrative Core will also be responsible for ensuring progress toward achieving the center's goals of building research capacity through the recruitment of other UNM faculty and new faculty hires, and enhancing our knowledge dissemination capabilities. Assessment of NMARC's progress and achievements will be the responsibility of the Steering Committee working in conjunction with an external Program Advisory Committee of seven internationally-renowned FASD scientists, who will advise and assess NMARC's research activities and progress towards the achievement of the center's goals and strategic objectives.
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy increases the risk of causing functional brain damage in the fetus which can lead to adverse, life-long neurobehavioral consequences. Except in more severe cases, many children affected by fetal alcohol exposure are difficult to identify, particularly early in life when interventional approachs can have the greatest positive impact. The New Mexico Alcohol Research Center's objectives are to advance our understanding of how alcohol causes functional brain damage and use this information to help develop better procedures for the diagnosis and treatment of fetal alcohol effects earlier in life.