Data Sets


Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA) (PI Dick) The Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA) is a multi-site project, with the goal of identifying specific genes involved in the predisposition to alcohol dependence and related disorders. The COGA sample consists of large families densely affected with alcohol dependence, in which were identified through inpatient or outpatient alcohol treatment programs. All individuals were administered the Semi-Structured Assessment for the Genetics of Alcoholism (SSAGA) interview, which is a polydiagnostic instrument that assesses most major psychiatric disorders (Bucholz et al., 1994; Hesselbrock et al., 1999). More than 14,000 individuals have been assessed. Individuals from the most densely affected families also underwent an electrophysiological protocol, including EEG and a battery of auditory and visual evoked potentials, as well as a variety of additional phenotypic information including personality, alcohol craving & expectancies, neuropsychological tests, and IQ. COGA has used a variety of complementary strategies for gene identification, and has a variety of genotyped samples in which different types of genetic analyses are on-going. These include (1) family-based linkage sample, which has microsatellite and SNP marker data on ~2282 individuals from 262 of the most densely affected, multiplex alcoholic families; (2) case control GWAS sample, consisting of 1235 alcohol dependent cases and 711 controls; and (3) child-adolescent sample, consisting of ~3000 individuals between the ages of 12-25, who are being followed longitudinally, in order to understand the effects of susceptibility genes identified in the adult samples across development. Other sites (PIs): University of Connecticut (V. Hesselbrock); Indiana University (H.J. Edenberg, J. Nurnberger Jr., T. Foroud); University of Iowa (S. Kuperman, J. Kramer); SUNY Downstate (B. Porjesz); Washington University in St. Louis (L. Bierut, A. Goate, J. Rice, K. Bucholz); University of California at San Diego (M. Schuckit); Howard University (R. Taylor); Rutgers University (J. Tischfield); Southwest Foundation (L. Almasy).

Family Etiology and Prevention of Young Adult Addictive Behavior (PI Dick)Currently, ongoing longitudinal research is testing genetically informed ecological models for the development of alcohol and other drug (AOD) use and dependence, antisocial behavior, and high-risk sexual behavior in adulthood.  The present study will build on an existing longitudinal research data set that involves a multiethnic sample of 999 youth and families assessed at 9 time points between age 11-12 and age 23-24. The original randomized longitudinal field trial (Project Alliance 1, PI Dishion, University of Oregon) included the sample of 999 multiethnic young adolescents who attended three public middle schools in northeast Portland, Oregon and their families.  The sample is divided into two cohorts.  Cohort 1 (n=676) was recruited and originally assessed in Grad 6 in the 1996-1997 academic year and Cohort 2 (n=323) in the 1998-1999 academic year.  We have formed a collaborative team to continue the study of this sample at age 26–27, during which we will collect saliva samples, analyze DNA, and assess the following constructs: adult adaptation to work, education, and family; psychological adjustment; drug use/abuse; antisocial and criminal behavior; and high-risk sexual behavior.  This rich data set includes a variety of data types, including youth and parent self-report surveys, teacher ratings of problem behavior, school records, criminal records, and observations of youth interacting with their families and best friends.  Other PI: T. Dishion (University of Oregon).

A Longitudinal Study of Genes, Environment and Alcohol Misuse in College Students (PI Kendler & Dick) Spit for Science: The VCU Student Survey (VSS) is an effort to understand how genetic and environmental factors come together to contribute to the development of problems associated with the use of alcohol and other substances and emotional health.  During summer 2011, freshman received an overview introducing them to the project.

Parents received a letter from the study PIs providing information about the study.  All freshmen 18 years of age and older were sent an introductory e-mail with a link to the on-line survey one week prior to their arrival at VCU.  Interested students that completed the on-line questionnaire answered questions about the student’s personality and behavior, as well as information on family, friends, and experiences growing up.  Students that completed the on-line questionnaire were then invited to give a DNA saliva sample.  Completed questionnaires were received from 2069 students or 57.6% of the 3,594 eligible VCU freshmen. Of these, 1,941 (93.8%) presented themselves for a DNA sample. Of these, 1,891 (97.4% of those requested, 91.3% of those who completed the questionnaire) gave a saliva sample for DNA.We have extended our investigations to include subsequent enrollment years 2012 and 2013.  For each new freshman cohort, we will attempt to obtain a completed questionnaire early in the fall of their freshman year and a saliva collection for DNA. Then we will obtain a second questionnaire in the spring of their freshman year. Then, for every subsequent year, we will attempt to obtain a follow-up questionnaire in the fall. This will include those who remain active students and those who drop out or eventually graduate.  



The Finnish Twin Studies (PI Dick) FinnTwin16 (FT16) and FinnTwin12 (FT12) are two population-based twin studies aimed at understanding how genetic and environmental influences impact the development of alcohol use and related behaviors across adolescence and into young adulthood. All twins were identified through Finland's Central Population Registry, permitting exhaustive and unbiased ascertainment of all twins born in the country across 10 birth, for a total of ~10,000 twins and their families. FT16 has questionnaire assessments at ages 16, 17, 18.5, and in the mid-20s. These questionnaires contain items on alcohol use, smoking, other drug use, personality, and related health habits and environmental factors. A subset of the twins highly concordant or discordant for alcohol use in adolescence (~600 twins) also completed psychiatric interviews, DNA collection, electrophysiological measures, and neuropsychological testing at the mid-20s assessment. FT12 first assessed children at age 12, with follow-ups at age 14, 17, and in the young 20s. In FT12, we have rich data from the twins, parents, teachers, and peers. A subset (~1850 twins and their parents) also completed psychiatric interviews at ages 14 and 22. GWAS data for this subset are also available. Other PIs: Richard Rose, Indiana University; Jaakko Kaprio, University of Helsinki.

The Child Development Project (PI Dick) The Child Development Project (CDP) is a community based sample, in which children were recruited during kindergarten pre-registration from a variety of schools that served families from a range of socioeconomic status groups at three US cities. The original CDP sample consisted of 585 children (52% male; 81% European American, 17% African American, and 2% other ethnic groups). Data collection began the summer before the participants entered kindergarten (at ~age 5) and follow-ups have been conducted annually and remain on-going (participants are currently entering their 30s). DNA was collected from 93% of the target sample of regular CDP participants and is stored in the VIPBG molecular genetics laboratory of Dr. Riley. The project's guiding model of developmental process is that children's biological dispositions, cultural contexts, life experiences, and characteristic social cognitions transactionally combine to influence a variety of behavioral outcomes. The rich, longitudinal assessments of the CDP offer special advantages for advancing understanding of genetic mechanisms in behavioral development. The CDP's database contains multi-source, multi-method measures of multiple levels of social context and process, including family, school, peer, neighborhood, and child characteristics. It also contains a wide range of adjustment measures, including externalizing and internalizing behavior problems, substance use, academic, occupational and military achievement, romantic relationships, and religious and civic involvement. The CDP database provides an unusually dense array of theoretically important, phenotypic measures over a long span of development. This richness of phenotypes makes the genetic information available in the sample particularly valuable for studying how these genes impact developmental pathways. Other PIs: Ken Dodge & Jen Lansford (Duke); Jack Bates (Indiana University); Greg Petit (Auburn).

The Mobile Youth Survey (MYS) (PI Dick) The MYS is designed to identify the life course trajectories of adolescents (aged 10-18) living in poverty in the Mobile-Prichard inner city area of Alabama. The MYS has been administered in a group-format for the past eight summers and exam?ines a number of psychosocial variables including risk behaviors (e.g., violence and agressive behavior, alcohol and drug use, sexual behavior), family factors (e.g., family structure and parental monitoring), and neighborhood factors (e.g., support from neighborhood). During the past six years nearly 6,000 different adolescents have been surveyed. In 2008, we obtained a grant to collect DNA and more extensive phenotypic measures on a subsample of ~700 MYS participants ages 14-18. These youth were also part of a 'natural experiment' in which a random subset of families were relocated to better housing make possible by a government grant. The MYS sample is a unique resource for extending our understanding of the risks associated with identified genes, both in the sense that it is a largely African-American sample, an under-represented population in genetic studies, and an impoverished sample, making it possible to study how extreme environmental conditions, such as poverty, may alter the importance/expression of individual genetic predispositions and/or the role of other important environmental factors, such as family and peer variables. Other PIs: Brian Mustanski (Univ of Illinois, Chicago), John Bolland (Univ of Alabama).

Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) (PIs: Dick & Kendler) ALSPAC has followed a large epidemiological cohort of ~14,000 children (with DNA on 10,000) and their parents from early in the mother's pregnancy through childhood and adolescence, with subjects now commencing evaluations at age 17. The project has collected comprehensive health-related information, including phenotypic outcomes, environmental factors, and DNA, with >85 assessments from mothers, their partners, and children, conducted from the pre-natal stage through age 17 at yearly, or more frequent, intervals. We are funded to collect alcohol-related information at the age 18 and 22 year assessments, assessing key constructs such as quantity/frequency/density of alcohol use and AUD symptoms, other drug use and antisocial behavior, as well as related constructs of importance, including peer group deviance, pro-social behaviors, other risk-taking behaviors, religious involvement, parent-child relations and monitoring (if respondent is still living at home), attitudes to and expectancies from alcohol use as well as measures of major life transitions such as moving out of the childhood home, work experience, attendance at university, romantic relationships/marriage, and child-bearing. Accordingly, with its detailed and frequent phenotypic assessments, the ALSPAC cohort provides a unique opportunity to clarify, in a developmental context, the complex web of susceptibility and protective factors for alcohol use and the development of alcohol-related problems.