Gallo Research Center to Lead $15 Million U.S. Army-Funded National Research Program

By Jennifer O'Brien

The UCSF-affiliated Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center has been selected to administer and manage a U.S. Army-funded research program intended to accelerate the discovery and development of new medications to treat alcohol and substance abuse in the context of post-traumatic stress and combat injury. 

John A. De Luca, PhDJohn A. De Luca, PhD

The new program, known as the Institute for Molecular Neuroscience (IMN), will rely on the expertise of a team of national experts who are unaffiliated with grant applicants to conduct an independent, peer-review process.

The first round of pilot research grants awarded by the IMN was announced today, July 11, 2012.

“The IMN Program holds great promise for combating national security health issues,” said John A. De Luca, PhD, chairman of the board of the Gallo Center and senior advisor to University of California President Mark Yudof. “It was created through Congressional appropriations to the Department of Defense in recognition of the increasing problem of alcohol and substance abuse facing our military personnel and veterans.” In many cases, he added, “substance abuse is related to post-traumatic stress or other combat related injuries, which can significantly impair patient medical treatment.”

The Gallo Center is a nationally recognized center of excellence for research in the neurobiology of addiction. “IMN,” according to William R. Sawyers, chief administrative officer of the IMN and the Gallo Center, “is a program of national importance, and we hope it serves as a model for future Department of Defense research efforts.” 

Grant recipients in this initial round of funding are:

Steven L. Batki

Northern California Institute for Research and Education (NCIRE)


John C. Crabbe

Oregon Health & Science University


Howard L. Fields

Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center


R. Adron Harris

University of Texas at Austin


Peter W. Kalivas

Medical University of South Carolina


Eric R. Kandel  

Columbia University


Jacqueline F.  McGinty

Medical University of South Carolina


Robert O. Messing

Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center


Ismene L. Petrakis

Yale University


Dorit Ron

Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center


“The IMN Program offers scientists an opportunity to help discover new medications to address a critical issue facing our military personnel and veterans,” said Sawyers.  “Our independent review committee is able to actively shape the research proposals to optimize the chances for success.”

This proactive approach to managing translational research, according to U.S. Army Col. Karl Friedl, director of the Army’s Telemedicine and Advance Technology Research Center (TATRC), “sets the IMN program apart from many other research programs.” 

The IMN Program has established an Advisory Council consisting of prominent scientists and clinicians with relevant expertise to advise on the strategic direction and priorities of the program. Current members of the IMN Advisory Council are:

  • Antonello Bonci, MD
    National Institute on Drug Abuse
  • John M. Carney, PhD
    US Army/Department of Defense - Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center
  • Ronald L. Hoover, PhD
    US Army/Department of Defense - Military Operational Medicine Research Program
  • G. Kenneth Lloyd, PhD
    Nereus Pharmaceuticals, Inc., San Diego, CA
  • Mary E. McCaul, PhD
    Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Mack C. Mitchell, M.D.
    University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
  • Murray A. Raskind, MD
    University of Washington

"These efforts will address a critical research gap surrounding alcohol use in service members returning from war,” said Col. Carl Castro, director of the Army’s Military Operational Medicine Research Program. “Congratulations to the recipients, and we look forward to the results of their research efforts on behalf of our service members and their families."

Congressional appropriations for the IMN Program to date are $6.375 million for FY 2010, $5.25 million for FY 2011 and $4.5 million for FY2012. The IMN expects to select from these pilot projects to provide additional funding to extend and confirm the most compelling research findings, said Sawyers.

The UCSF-affiliated Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center is one of the world’s preeminent academic centers for the study of the biological basis of alcohol and substance use disorders. Gallo Center discoveries of potential molecular targets for the development of therapeutic medications are extended through preclinical and proof-of-concept clinical studies.

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care.