Laura Jean Bierut, MD

Laura Jean Bierut, MD

Smoking behavior, substance dependence, genetically informed clinical care

Alumni Endowed Professor of Psychiatry
Vice Chair for Faculty Development

  • Keywords
    Smoking behavior, substance dependence, genetically informed clinical care

  • Research
    As a physician scientist, I have led several studies funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study environmental and genetic contributions to smoking behaviors, addiction and other psychiatric and medical illnesses. I am an active member in the NIDA Genetics Consortium, a national group of scientists who are leading NIDA’s efforts to understand genetic causes of substance dependence. My research group conducted the initial studies which found that the a5 nicotinic receptor subunit genes on chromosome 15 and the a6ß3 nicotinic receptor subunit genes on chromosome 8 increase a smoker’s risk for nicotine dependence. In collaboration with other groups, we have since demonstrated that the same genetic variants that contribute to smoking in the chromosome 15 region also influence the development of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. We are currently exploring how to translate genetic information to guide more effective clinical care. We have ongoing studies of genetic factors and smoking cessation treatment.