Science of Addiction Symposium to foster UM System collaboration on societal issue

Researchers of various backgrounds will gather in the hopes of increasing addiction treatment and intervention.

MU will host the Science of Addiction Symposium on Thursday to investigate the problem of addiction, foster collaboration in solving issues and inform the community. This event is free and open to the public.

Jamie Arndt, department chair of psychological sciences and part of the organizing committee for the event, said he had this idea in September 2017, and has been meeting with faculty and staff members since then to plan and implement the symposium.

The event will begin with breakfast as speakers check in. MU Provost Latha Ramchand and Mark McIntosh, MU vice chancellor for research, graduate studies and economic development, will give opening remarks.

The symposium is meant to create a broader look at the science of addiction as a way to foster interdisciplinary work and create connections, Arndt said.

“Part of what we’re trying to do with the science in this department and in this effort is to understand, broadly, the nature of addiction so that we’re positioned to help inform, prevent, treat whatever the addiction may be,” Arndt said.

The three sessions will cover drugs and society, the genetic and chemical sides of addiction, and intervention and training. Speakers are from a variety of departments and schools, including psychology, engineering, journalism and pharmacology.

Arndt encouraged students interested in how addiction works in the body and in society, medical practitioners that deal in addiction and researchers exploring the nature of addiction to attend the symposium.

Over 20 researchers from within the UM System and other universities will be giving presentations, ranging from keynote speeches to “flash talks.” Sandra Brown, vice chancellor for research at the University of California San Diego, will give the first keynote address, entitled “Alcohol, Drugs and the Adolescent Brain.” Robert Messing, professor of neurology and neuroscience at the University of Texas at Austin, will give the second keynote address, entitled “New Compounds for Treating Alcohol Use Disorder.”

The symposium will conclude with a question and answer session and closing remarks set to promote MU as a Center of Excellence, “leading the nation in research, teaching, and outreach to address the causes of addiction and promote health through prevention and treatment,” according to the event website.

This event is meant to be the beginning of a continuing interdisciplinary conversation about addiction, Arndt said. The event is meant to foster steady progress on the understanding and treatment of addiction in today’s society, he said.

“The symposium itself will achieve its potential if it’s not an end, but a means to an end,” Arndt said. “If it’s sort of a first step in galvanizing a sustained conversation about addiction, then we’ll consider it a tremendous success.”

The Science of Addiction Symposium will last from 8 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. with a reception held until 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 6.

Edited by Morgan Smith |

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