OVERCOMING SUBSTANCE DEPENDENCE
To stem the tide of substance and alcohol use disorders, the USC School of Pharmacy is a key partner in the newly established USC Institute for Addiction Science (IAS), the nation’s first universitywide, comprehensive, transdisciplinary addiction institute. IAS brings together 77 faculty from nine colleges and schools, including medicine, social work, psychology, communication, public policy and engineering, in addition to pharmacy.
IAS aims to transform the field of addiction science to improve lives and free communities from the ravages of substance use and overdoses. By providing an infrastructure to support synergy and collaboration between scholars, IAS will generate innovative and impactful addiction research and educational programs that advance the science, prevention and treatment of addiction.
Pharmacy Leadership One of IAS’ leaders is Daryl Davies, professor of clinical pharmacy and director of the Alcohol and Brain Research Laboratory at USC. His research revolves around the development of novel treatments for alcohol use disorders (AUDs), third on the list of preventable causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States. The economic burden to society for AUDs is in excess of $220 billion annually.
To date, pharmacotherapies, even in conjunction with psychosocial strategies, have had limited success in treating AUDs, with approximately 70% of patients relapsing back into heavy drinking within one year. Drug development for AUDs is a relatively young field compared to other diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular and psychiatric disorders. Thus development of new treatments for AUDs represents an important unmet medical need.
In response to this challenge, Davies and his team have focused on identifying molecular targets of alcohol action in the central nervous system. Recent findings from this work have resulted in specific targets for which therapeutic compounds have been designed and are currently under investigation.
Davies’ work—and that of numerous other School of Pharmacy faculty—will be bolstered and advanced by the school’s leadership role in the new institute.