“How Genetic and Other Biological Factors Interact with Smoking Decisions,” by Laura Bierut and David Cesarini, published in the journal, Big Data (October 2015)
Dr. Laura Bierut, M.D./Ph.D., Alumni Endowed Professor of Psychiatry and Co-Director, Outpatient Psychiatry Center, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine; Member, National Institute on Drug Abuses’ Genetics Consortium; Lead, Collaborative Genetic Study of Nicotine Dependence (COGEND); Researcher, National Human Genome Research Institute’s Genes, Environment, and Health Initiative
Dr. David Cesarini, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Economics, Dept. of Economics and Center for Experimental Social Science, New York University
Despite clear links between genes and smoking, effective public policy requires far richer measurement of the feedback between biological, behavioral, and environmental factors. The HUMAN Project (THP) plans to exploit the plummeting costs of data gathering and to make creative use of new technologies to construct a longitudinal panel data set that would compare favorably to existing longitudinal surveys, both in terms of the richness of the behavioral measures and the cost-effectiveness of the data collection. By developing a more comprehensive approach to characterizing behavior than traditional methods, THP will allow researchers to paint a much richer picture of an individual’s life-cycle trajectory of smoking, alcohol, and drug use, and interactions with other choices and environmental factors. The longitudinal nature of THP will be particularly valuable in light of the increasing evidence for how smoking behavior affects physiology and health. The THP could have a transformative impact on the understanding of the biology of addictive behaviors such as smoking, and of a rich range of prevention and amelioration policies.