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PhenX Substance Abuse and Addiction (SAA) Working Groups (WGs) Roles and Responsibilities


To enhance cross-study analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and other large-scale genomic and epidemiologic research, the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) supports a consensus-building effort called PhenX (Phenotype and eXposures, The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is currently sponsoring a 1-year Administrative Supplement to expand the depth and breadth of Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Substances measures in the PhenX Toolkit ( A 10-member Substance Abuse and Addiction (SAA) Scientific Panel (SSP), chaired by Dr. Kenneth Sher, will facilitate the inclusion of one core collection and six specialty collections of SAA measures in the Toolkit.

Six Specialty Areas

  • Assessment of substance use and substance use disorders
  • Substance-specific intermediate phenotypes
  • Substance use-related neurobehavioral and cognitive risk factors
  • Substance use-related psychosocial risk factors
  • Substance use-related community factors
  • Substance use-related comorbidities and health-related outcomes

Between seven and nine scientists with relevant expertise in the selected specialty areas are serving on three SAA Working Groups (WGs), each addressing two of the specialty areas as defined by the SSP. Each SAA WG has two SSP liaisons and is supported by an RTI WG manager. The task of the SAA WGs is to select up to eight measures for each specialty area. Each WG has 4 months to identify a set of well-established, high-priority measures for inclusion in the PhenX Toolkit. It is expected that some 48 SAA measures will be added to the Toolkit by spring 2012. Use of the selected consensus measures will make it easier to compare results from different studies or to combine studies to create larger sample sizes, increasing statistical power and the ability to detect more subtle and complex associations.

Representatives from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Institutes and Centers (ICs) are invited to participate in PhenX activities, including the SAA project. The NIH liaisons bring substantial expertise and experience to these processes. The liaisons will exchange relevant information with their ICs and help ensure that PhenX is coordinated with related NIH initiatives.

Roles of the WGs

  • Select high-priority measures for each of the two SAA specialty areas
  • Recommend well-established protocols for obtaining high-priority measures

Responsibilities of the WGs

SAA WG 1 - Substance Use

  • Specialty Area 1: Assessment of substance use and substance use disorders
  • Specialty Area 2: Substance-specific intermediate phenotypes

SAA WG 2 - Risk Factors

  • Specialty Area 3: Substance use - related neurobehavioral and cognitive risk factors
  • Specialty Area 4: Substance use - related psychosocial risk factors

SAA WG 3 - Community, Comorbidities and Outcomes

  • Specialty Area 5: Substance use - related community factors
  • Specialty Area 6: Substance use - related comorbidities and health-related outcomes

Review Existing Measures

  • Identify measures and instruments currently in use in the SAA field
  • Examine the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Substances measures in the PhenX Toolkit
  • Assess diversity of methods used for measures

Select Measures

  • Use the criteria established for all PhenX WGs to select the measures and protocols
  • Select up to 10 priority measures for community outreach for each of the two specialty groups 
  • Describe preferred data collection methods for each measure
  • Finalize up to eight measures and protocols for each of the two specialty areas to include in the PhenX Toolkit


  • Identify colleagues and other members of the research community to review and comment on selected measures via outreach
  • Work with RTI and NIH staff to evaluate input from the scientific community on selected measures and measurement protocols
  • Identify scientific journals and professional meetings/conferences to present and promote use of PhenX measures

WG Member Time Commitment

  • Attend one in-person meeting in Washington, DC, metropolitan area
  • Participate in conference calls (estimated at three calls total)

PhenX SAA Senior Management Team

RTI International

Carol M. Hamilton, PhD
Principal Investigator

Deborah Maiese, MPA
Consensus Coordinator
Lisa C. Strader, MPH

Amanda Riley, PMP
Project Manager
Dana Hancock, PhD
SSP Coordinator

National Human Genome Research Institute

Erin Ramos, PhD, MPH
Project Scientist
Heather Junkins, MS
Scientific Program Analyst

National Institute on Drug Abuse

Kevin Conway, PhD
Deputy Director, Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Marcia Scott, PhD
Health Scientist Administrator

Information and materials about PhenX are posted at

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