RIA awarded more than $5 million in NIH grants to study alcohol issues

By Cathy Wilde

Release Date: June 13, 2016

Paul Stasiewicz

Clara Bradizza

Maria Testa

“We hope that improved understanding of how fluctuating levels of self-control and alcohol use influence daily episodes of aggression will help us develop novel interventions to prevent intimate partner violence.”
Maria Testa, senior research scientist, Research Institute on Addictions
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions has received two grants totaling more than $5 million from the National Institutes of Health to study public health issues involving alcohol.

One grant will focus on a new treatment protocol for alcohol use disorders, while the other will study the impact of alcohol use and self-control on intimate partner violence. Both grants are funded through the NIH’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Paul Stasiewicz, PhD, and Clara Bradizza, PhD, senior research scientists at RIA, are the principal investigators on a $3.2 million grant to study the effectiveness of Affect Regulation Training for alcohol use disorders.

“ART is an intervention with specific procedures for helping people with alcohol problems to develop the capacity to regulate their emotions in healthy ways,” Stasiewicz says. “It addresses a long-standing concern among treatment providers, namely the central role of negative emotions, or affect, in the development and persistence of substance use disorders.”

Participants in the study will receive outpatient cognitive-behavioral treatment for problem drinking, along with either an ART supplement or an active health and lifestyle program to see which option shows more effective long-term results.

Co-investigators on the grant include Joseph Lucke, PhD, of RIA, Scott Coffey, PhD, of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and Suzy Gulliver, PhD, of Scott & White Memorial Hospital, Texas.

Maria Testa, PhD, senior research scientist at RIA, is the principal investigator on a $2.2 million grant to study alcohol, self-control and intimate partner aggression.

“Despite the high prevalence of partner violence and its well-known negative consequences for public health, existing treatment programs have shown little effectiveness in reducing intimate partner violence,” Testa says.

To address this, Testa’s team will recruit couples with a past history of physical aggression who will be given smartphones to make several daily reports on events involving anger, conflict or aggression. The researchers will assess mood, self-control strength, couple functioning (e.g., satisfaction, anger, conflict), and episodes of drinking and conflict, including verbal and physical aggression.   

“We hope that improved understanding of how fluctuating levels of self-control and alcohol use influence daily episodes of aggression will help us develop novel interventions to prevent intimate partner violence,” Testa says.

The grant’s co-investigators are Kenneth E. Leonard, PhD, RIA director, and R. Lorraine Collins, PhD, associate dean for research in the UB School of Public Health and Health Professions.  In addition to the NIAAA grant, the study received funding from the institute’s Office of the Director.

RIA is a research center of the University at Buffalo and a national leader in the study of alcohol and substance abuse issues. RIA’s research programs, most of which have multiple-year funding, are supported by federal, state and private foundation grants. Located on UB’s Downtown Campus, RIA is a member of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and a key contributor to UB’s reputation for research excellence. To learn more, visit buffalo.edu/ria

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