The Center for Alcohol Research in Epigenetics (CARE) hosted its fourth annual retreat on May 28th to 29th, 2019. The aim of this retreat is to promote interactions among researchers and trainees working in the alcohol research field within the Chicagoland area. The retreat also offers many opportunities for researchers in the field to present their recent work and concludes with a poster session on the final day of the retreat. Several alcohol researchers within CARE also delivered scientific presentations on May 28th, 2019.The first day of the retreat was attended by faculty and trainees of CARE, members of the external advisory board, including Dr. Dr. Harriet de Witt from the University of Chicago, Dr. Dipak Sarkar from Rutgers University, Dr. Gary Wand from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Dr. Robert Swift from Brown University, Dr. Lawrence Chandler from The Medical University of South Carolina, and Dr. Gregg E. Homanics from University of Pittsburgh, as well as NIAAA staff, Dr. Antonio Noronha and Dr. Hemin Chin. The second day of the retreat was attended by all members of CARE, including research staff and trainees as well as other researchers.
On the first day of the retreat, after welcoming remarks by Dr. Anand Kumar, Head of Department of Psychiatry at UIC, Dr. Subhash Pandey delivered a presentation about the overall progress of the administrative core of the center. This presentation was followed by a presentation by Dr. Dennis Grayson about the progress of the epigenetic core of the center. These presentations were followed by presentations of research projects by Dr. Pandey, Dr. Amy Lasek, Dr. Mark Brodie, and Dr. Alessandro Guidotti. During the afternoon, pilot projects were presented by Dr. Stephanie Gorka, Dr. Erbo Dong, Dr. Harish Krishnan, and Dr. James Auta. These presentations were thoroughly discussed by advisory board members. After this, Dr. Noronha and Dr. Chin shared several research priority areas of the NIAAA, including NIH brain initiatives. Dr. Noronha and Dr. Chin also made remarks about the impressive progress made by CARE and then held discussions with faculty and trainees about the genetic and epigenetic research progress of the center.
The second day of the retreat commenced with data presentations by several CARE trainees: “The Role of the Ventral Tegmental Area’s Estrogen Receptors in Ethanol Responses” by Bertha Vandergrift, “Regulation of Binge Drinking by the ALK and STAT3 Signaling Pathway” by Kana Hamada, and “Unraveling the Alcohol Epigenome Using Next-Generation Sequencing” by Dr. Harish Krishnan. These presentations were followed by a presentation by the keynote speaker, Dr. Dipak K. Sakar, “Alcohol Epigenetic Marks on Neuroimmune Cells Regulating Stress and Anxiety Behaviors.” These talks were well received and appreciated by the attendees. During the afternoon of the second day of the retreat, CARE held a poster presentation session featuring 38 posters submitted and presented by junior staff and faculty. This year’s winners of the poster presentation contest were Dr. Ted Hsu (1st place, Department of Psychology), Dario Aspesi (2nd place, Department of Psychiatry), and Dr. John Peyton Bohnsack (3rd place, Department of Psychiatry). The poster session was judged by a panel of experts led by Dr. Lasek. The meeting was concluded with thank you speech by Dr. Pandey.