Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Human Genetics

First Advisor

Danielle M. Dick, PhD


The aim of this thesis is to expand our understanding of the etiology of alcohol misuse and related disorders in African Americans using genetically informative study designs. Specifically, we take advantage of the candidate-gene approach and polygenic score analysis to extend the literature specific to African American populations. Chapter 2 explores gene x environment (GxE) interactions through the candidate gene approach to explore the relationship between two genes chosen on their potential relevance to stress response and adolescent alcohol use and misuse, among African American youth living in highly impoverished neighborhoods, as moderated by stressful life events. Chapter 3 implements polygenic score analyses to examine the effect of an aggregate of markers. We explore whether polygenic risk for alcohol dependence – derived from GWAS estimates in one discovery sample – predict alcohol use and broader externalizing behaviors and interact with stressful life events to predict alcohol use/misuse among high-risk African American youth.


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