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Second two sessions of Mini-Medical School to concentrate on alcohol addiction, treatments (4-09-01)

Few people can honestly say their lives have not been adversely affected by alcoholism. Lives are torn apart as a parent, a spouse or a child fights alcohol addiction. Why does one person become addicted to alcohol while others never have a problem with it? Researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio are searching for answers to these complicated questions in their quest for better treatments.

One of the nation’s top researchers on alcohol and drug addiction is Bankole A. Johnson, M.D., Ph.D., Wurzbach Distinguished Professor at the Health Science Center, deputy chairman for research in the department of psychiatry and chief of the division of alcohol and drug addiction. Dr. Johnson will speak about his and his colleagues’ breakthroughs at an upcoming session of the Mini-Medical School, which is being presented by the Health Science Center as a gift to the community. Sessions on April 17 and 24 will focus on alcohol addiction and treatments.

Dr. Johnson, who will speak April 24, said the Mini-Medical School is a wonderful means "to inform and teach about the excellence of our medical school and its opportunities in the future."

The fourth annual event is scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. April 17 and 24 in Lecture Hall 3.102B (next to the Dolph Briscoe Jr. Library), 7703 Floyd Curl Drive. The Mini-Medical School is free and open to the public. The program is supported in part by an educational grant from Pfizer.

Dr. Johnson is the principal investigator on several research projects funded by the National Institutes of Health. His research includes developing medications for drug and alcohol addiction and conducting neuroimaging studies to understand the biological and psychosocial causes of the disease. He recently established the Southwest Texas Addiction Research Technology Center (START), which offers treatment in alcohol and cocaine addiction within research studies that are free of charge to the public.

"The last three decades have seen rapid expansion of self-help and advocacy groups for the treatment of alcohol and drug addiction. While these remain the cornerstone of our treatments today, it is clear that they are simply not enough to bring about the dramatic decrease we need in the number of addicts," Dr. Johnson said. "Great strides are being made in the area of alcohol treatment research. Alcoholics are not all the same. The hope for the future is that we give people the treatment that is best for them."

The April 17 session will cover "Alcohol: The Body’s Ancient Nemesis." Margaret Brackley, Ph.D., R.N., associate professor of chronic nursing, and Joe E. Thornton, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry, will discuss "The Alcoholic Patient in Society." Robert Lee Reddick, M.D., professor of pathology and the Frank Townsend, M.D., Chair, will speak on "Alcohol and the Body: Clinical and Organ Pathology."

The April 24 session also will include a presentation by John D. Roache, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and pharmacology, who will discuss "The Biobehavioral Basis of Addiction."

Registration is required due to limited seating capacity. Registration is available at http://minimedschool01.uthscsa.edu/. For more information or to register, call (210) 567-1925 or send e-mail to ramonj@uthscsa.edu.

Contact: Catherine Duncan