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New Project On Brain Science, Addiction And Drugs

Monday 10 May 2004 09:08
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Identifying the addiction genes, new treatments for addiction, and the possibility of individually tailored drugs are just a few of the issues a new Foresight project announced today will be investigating.

The Brain science, addiction and drugs project will look 20 years ahead at the possible opportunities and risks arising from rapid advances in brain science and drugs. It will cover topics such as:

* the impact of drugs on the individual and society;
* our understanding of addiction and how it might develop;
* possible future addictive drugs and behaviours; and
* possible future treatments for addiction.

Lead Minister for this project, Health Minister, Lord Warner said:

"Developments in this cutting edge field of brain science have brought many benefits and opportunities but new advances also create new risks, dilemmas and problems.'

'This project will try to identify the opportunities and risks, and plan for
approaches to different types of addiction including drugs, in the future."

Sir David King, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, who is leading the project said:

"Over the next 20 years the genetic causes of addiction will become clearer, medical treatments could be tailored to suit an individual's addiction risk, and brain enhancing drugs could become more widely used.

"This project will investigate the impact these and other developments could have in the future on both individuals and society as a whole."

Three leading academics have recently been appointed to provide the detailed scientific input to the project. They are Professor David Nutt, Professor of Psychopharmacology at the University of Bristol, Professor Trevor Robbins, head of the Experimental Psychology Department at the University of Cambridge, and Professor Gerry Stimson, a public health sociologist at Imperial College, London.

The project will bring together Government, industry, academia, research funders, health professionals and others to inform long-term strategic planning.

The outcomes of the project will be presented in summer 2005.

Notes to Editors

1. The Brain Science, Addiction and Drugs project is part of the Foresight programme, managed by the Office of Science and Technology within the Department of Trade and Industry.

2. The Foresight programme looks beyond normal planning timescales to identify potential opportunities from new science and technologies. It produces challenging visions of the future to ensure effective strategies now. It brings together scientists, technologists, businesses and consumers to discuss the future.

3. More details on Foresight and the Brain Science, Addiction and Drugs project can be found at

Biographical Details

Professor David Nutt - Professor of Psychopharmacology, and Head of the Clinical Medicine Department, University of Bristol. He set up the Psychopharmacology Unit in Bristol in 1988. The Unit is an interdisciplinary research grouping spanning the department of Psychiatry and Pharmacology. He is currently a member of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), the Chair of the Technical Committee of the ACMD, the committee on Safety of Medicines, and the MRC Neuroscience Advisory Board.

Professor Trevor Robbins - Head of the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, Director of Medical Research Council Centre for Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience. Chairman and a Council member of the MRC's Neuroscience Board and a former President of the British Association for Psychopharmacology. His published works are Psychology for Medicine (1988), Seminars in the Neurosciences: milestones in dopamine research (1992), The Prefrontal Cortex (1998) and Disorders of Brain and Mind (2003).

Professor Gerry Stimson - public health sociologist at the Centre for Research on Drugs and Health Behaviour, Imperial College. He established (in 1990) and directs The Centre for Research on Drugs and Health Behaviour. In 1997, he established the Department of Social Science and Medicine. He has over 30 years experience of research on drug and alcohol problems, and more recently on sexual health. He has played a major role in the international development, evaluation and promotion of harm reduction as a response to drug use.

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