Gambling Disorders 360°

Exploring the latest news, issues and research relating to gambling disorders and responsible gaming

Interview with Institute Scientific Advisory Board Chair – Linda B. Cottler, Ph.D., M.P.H.

by: Institute Staff | May 7, 2010

The following is an excerpt from the story “Cottler Leads Scientific Advisory Board into New Era,” which originally was published in the spring 2010 edition of Responsible Gaming Quarterly.

Dr. Linda B. CottlerWhen Dr. Linda B. Cottler was first asked to serve as chair of the Institute for Research on Gambling Disorders’ Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), she made one point exceedingly clear – “I didn’t want to do this job unless there was something I could really contribute,” she said. Cottler, a professor of epidemiology in psychiatry at the Washington University School of Medicine, is one of the country’s foremost epidemiological scientists and is widely respected throughout the addictions research community for her contributions to the field.

Less than a year since the Institute’s inception, Cottler and her fellow SAB members already have made a significant impact on the field of research on gambling disorders. In February, guided by the SAB, the Institute announced the restructuring of its Project Grants program, which will include doubling the number of grants available through that program (see cover story).

By increasing the number of grants available, the SAB is hoping to encourage more researchers to become involved in the field of research on gambling disorders. “The science of addiction shows there are certain synergies between pathological gambling and other addictions, so providing more opportunities for researchers to collaborate and explore these synergies can facilitate interesting new findings and stimulate the growth of the field,” Cottler said. “This new approach provides the same amount of total funding as before, but enables more researchers from diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise to be involved.”

In addition to simply having a greater number of researchers involved in the field, Cottler said the SAB is particularly interested in providing support for junior investigators and encouraging them to conduct studies on gambling disorders.

“In the next 10 years, the research workforce will lose about 30 percent of its active investigators to retirement,” Cottler said. “This is a significant loss, and so it is critical that we focus on helping junior investigators develop an expertise in this area.”

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Cottler explained that the SAB and the Institute also have plans to raise awareness about gambling disorders within the broader addictions community and to encourage various branches of the National Institutes of Health to continue funding gambling research. She noted that an important part of this outreach will be making the connection between gambling disorders and other addictions — such as substance-related disorders – and how research in the gambling sector can help inform broader scientific efforts.

“The NCRG and the Institute have been very important to the field of gambling research, singlehandedly funding the bulk of the research that has helped increase understanding of treatments and assessments and informed the development of science-based tools that can be easily picked up and used by others,” Cottler said. “It is important that we also understand the funding priorities at the federal level so that we can continue to provide seed grant opportunities that can be leveraged into larger federal funding opportunities. This will allow investigators to conduct widescale research in this field and for communities to make further headway in reducing the consequences of gambling disorders.”

Dr. Linda B. Cottler is the chair of the Institute’s Scientific Advisory Board and the 2010 recipient of the Marian W. Fischman Lectureship Award from the College on Problems of Drug Dependence in honor of her outstanding contributions in drug abuse research.

For the full article and additional insights from Dr. Cottler, turn to pages 4-5 of the spring 2010 Responsible Gaming Quarterly.

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