• Press Release

Mount Sinai Participates in Landmark Study to Investigate Substance Use and Adolescent Brain Development

  • New York
  • (November 02, 2015)

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has received more than $4.7 million from the National Institutes of Health to study the effects of adolescent substance use on the developing brain.  The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study will follow approximately 10,000 children beginning at ages 9 to 10, before they initiate drug use, through the period of highest risk for substance use and other mental health disorders.  Scientists will track exposure to substances (including nicotine, alcohol and marijuana), academic achievement, cognitive skills, mental health and brain structure and function using advanced research methods.

Mount Sinai’s portion of the ABCD study will include following 500 teens and specifically focus on predictors of early-onset use and how these substances alter the developmental trajectory of the brain in the short and longer term.

“The standardized, multi-system big-data framework approach that we will use to study a large number of young study participants represents a paradigm shift for the addiction and mental health fields and will yield valuable insight about the impact of substance use and abuse on young people,” says Rita Goldstein, PhD, Chief of the Neuropsychoimaging of Addiction and Related Conditions (NARC) and the Brain Imaging Center (BIC) and a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience in the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who is leading the study at Mount Sinai.  “Integrative multi-modal neuroimaging studies to uncover the brain mechanisms that could predate and potentially contribute to risk for substance abuse and addiction and related psychiatric comorbidities have not been conducted at this scale before, so this project is both exciting and crucially important.”

Dr. Goldstein will work with collaborators from the University of California, San Diego, Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University and Columbia University to collect mental and physical health information, including data from high-resolution brain scans and genetic material.  They will also collect information about sleep patterns, diet and exercise, social media use and other environmental factors.  

“The close collaboration with Dr. BJ Casey, the principal investigator of the study at Weill Cornell, and her team, will allow us to study the cortical-subcortical pathways that may predispose some individuals for developing impulsive behaviors that could contribute to drug addiction and other disorders.  Such early identification of risk is crucial for the development of effective and individually tailored intervention and prevention efforts. We will also be able to identify the brain circuits and pathways that may provide protection against developing addiction; identifying mechanisms underlying resilience has been an important focus at Mount Sinai,” says Dr. Goldstein.

In addition to creating a comprehensive informational database and birds-eye view of this potentially turbulent time in a person’s development, the ABCD study aims to apply these findings to help inform public health and prevention strategies that can be designed to protect young people when they are most vulnerable.

For more information about the ABCD Study, please visit: http://addictionresearch.nih.gov/adolescent-brain-cognitive-development-study


About the Mount Sinai Health System

The Mount Sinai Health System is New York City's largest integrated delivery system encompassing seven hospital campuses, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai's vision is to produce the safest care, the highest quality, the highest satisfaction, the best access and the best value of any health system in the nation. The System includes approximately 6,600 primary and specialty care physicians; 10 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 140 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. The Icahn School of Medicine is one of three medical schools that have earned distinction by multiple indicators: ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report's "Best Medical Schools", aligned with a U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" Hospital, No. 13 in the nation for National Institutes of Health funding, and among the top 10 most innovative research institutions as ranked by the journal Nature in its Nature Innovation Index. This reflects a special level of excellence in education, clinical practice, and research. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked No. 18 on U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" of top U.S. hospitals; it is one of the nation's top 20 hospitals in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Nephrology, and Neurology/Neurosurgery, and in the top 50 in six other specialties in the 2018-2019 "Best Hospitals" issue. Mount Sinai's Kravis Children's Hospital also is ranked nationally in five out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report. The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked 11th nationally for Ophthalmology and 44th for Ear, Nose, and Throat, while Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai St. Luke's and Mount Sinai West are ranked regionally.

For more information, visit https://www.mountsinai.org or find Mount Sinai on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.