Alex Dopico, MD, PhD, of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) has spent more than two decades researching the effects of alcohol on the brain. Nationally funded and well-regarded for his work, Dr. Dopico will now have an opportunity to make an impact on a national level on research and policy focusing on alcohol and alcoholism.
Dr. Dopico, University Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacology in the College of Medicine at UTHSC, has been appointed to serve a four-year term on the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The council is the highest advisory board for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), one of the 27 institutes and centers that make up the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
NIAAA leads the country’s effort to stem alcohol-related problems by conducting and supporting research; coordinating local, state and national programs; and disseminating information to the public. It is the world’s largest funder of alcohol research.
The 18-member council advises, assists and consults with the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the director of the NIAAA on matters related to the activities and policies of the institute. Along with helping to shape policy nationwide, the council is charged with second-level review on grants for alcohol research before they become effectively funded.
The invitation to serve on the council was extended by the Secretary of Health and Human Services following the nomination of Dr. Dopico by NIAAA Director George Koob. Dr. Koob was particularly impressed with a presentation by Dr. Dopico about his alcohol research at UTHSC made during a prestigious international scientific forum, the Gordon Research Conference, in February 2016.
Over the years, Dr. Dopico has pursued his overall research goal to develop drugs to target proteins within cells that control the physiological and behavioral changes associated with alcohol intoxication as a way to prevent or reverse those effects. He is also studying how arteries in the brain and brain circulation react when alcohol and caffeine are consumed together.
“At the personal level, this appointment means a lot, because it is a recognition of a career of more than 20 years in alcohol research. More importantly, the appointment ensures UTHSC’s presence on a forum that provides advice to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the director of the NIAAA on activities and policies related to the mission of the Institute,” Dr. Dopico said. He will continue his research at UTHSC, and will serve on the council until October 31, 2020.