At the Behavioral Genetics of Addiction Laboratory, we conduct studies that identify genetic and environmental factors related to substance addiction.


The mission of the BGA Lab is to investigate how genomic variation influences the progression to maladaptive drug and alcohol use behaviors.


  • Identify differences in our DNA that influence our relationship with alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other illicit drugs.
  • Understand additional traits and behaviors that may predate the onset of substance use/addiction or co-occur with substance use/addiction, such as major depression, conduct problems, and novelty seeking.


A genome. Courtesy of Illumina, Inc.
A genome. Courtesy of Illumina, Inc.



  • Large databases that contain information from participants who provide their DNA to help identify and understand the biological mechanism(s) of these behaviors. We analyze the genome-wide differences between all of these individuals to identify elements that co-segregate with the behavior/trait under study.


  • Samples of twins and families to conduct quasi-experimental studies of human behavior. Twin, adoption, and family designs are useful because they allow for proxy control over genetic effects that may be shared by offspring, thus allowing for less biased assessments of the role of environmental experiences on behaviors/traits. Moreover, using the classical twin design, we can approximate the contribution of genes and environment to behavior.


  • Supervised and unsupervised statistical methods to explore novel risk prediction methods of drug and alcohol use.

Please take the time to tour the rest of our pages or contact Dr. Rohan Palmer for details.