PhenX Substance Abuse and Addiction (SAA) Scientific Panel (SSP)
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) sponsored 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, facilitated the inclusion of one core collection and six specialty collections of SAA measures in the Toolkit.

The SSP defined the initial scope of six specialty areas, or fields of SAA research. Three SAA Working Groups (WGs) identified well-established, high-priority measures with recommended measurement protocols for inclusion in the Toolkit. Led by RTI International, this process required significant involvement of scientists involved in GWAS and other genomic and epidemiologic research. The measures identified by the SAA WGs were vetted through community outreach before being added to the PhenX Toolkit. 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.

The SSP established three SAA WGs, each addressing two of the specialty areas defined by the SSP. The task of the SAA WGs was to select up to eight measures for each specialty area. The SAA WGs were comprised of between seven and nine scientists with relevant expertise in the selected specialty areas. For each SAA WG, there were two SSP members who served as liaisons to facilitate the consensus-building process of selecting measures and their corresponding protocols. Each WG delivered a set of between 12 and 16 high-priority measures for inclusion in the PhenX Toolkit by early 2012.

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

Roles of the SSP

  • Provide knowledge and guidance and lend perspective to the project
  • Select the scope of six specialty areas
  • Establish three WGs to address the six specialty areas
  • Designate an SAA core collection of measures
  • Build consensus with respect to PhenX processes and products
  • Further the project’s goals through ongoing communication with the scientific community

Responsibilities of the SSP

Selecting Specialty Areas

  • Review project timeline
  • Identify six specialty areas for the SAA project to address
  • Coordinate with related initiatives at NIH and elsewhere

Establishing SAA WGs

  • Nominate potential SAA WG members and identify two SSP members to serve as liaisons to each SAA WG
  • Provide guidance to the SAA WGs on the choice of measurement protocols

Designating a Core SAA Collection of Measures

  • Review and select measures from the six specialty areas for inclusion in the core collection
  • Identify other measures in the PhenX Toolkit for inclusion in the core collection

Communicating and Consensus Building

  • Help build consensus in the scientific community for this project and its deliverables
  • Identify opportunities for interactions and communications with the scientific community
  • Review and comment on draft materials from the WGs
  • Communicate on an ongoing basis with the RTI team and the PhenX Steering Committee to ensure that the PhenX Toolkit is a practical and effective resource for genomic and epidemiologic research

Integrating Measures into the PhenX Toolkit

  • Approve the standardized measures selected by each SAA for inclusion in the PhenX Toolkit
  • Integrate core collection of measures

SSP Time Commitment

  • Attend one in-person SSP meeting in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area
  • Participate in SSP conference calls (estimated at three calls total)
  • Participate, as interests and time permit, in specific SAA WGs


PhenX SAA Senior Management Team

Kevin Conway, Ph.D.
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Deborah Maiese, MPA
Consensus Coordinator
Carol M. Hamilton, PhD
Principal Investigator 
Amanda Riley, PMP
Project Manager
Tabitha Hendershot, B.A.
Co-Investigator, WG3 supervisor 
Erin Ramos, PhD, MPH
Project Scientist 
Dana Hancock, PhD
SSP Coordinator, WG1 Supervisor
Marcia Scott, Ph.D.
National Institute on 
Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Wayne Huggins, Ph.D.
Investigator, WG2 supervisor
Lisa C. Strader, BS, MPH
Heather Junkins, MS
Scientific Program Analyst 

PhenX SAA Funding Organizations

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


Information and materials about PhenX are posted at or