Students Asked to Spit Again for Science

Multi-cohort study examines factors that contribute to alcohol use and emotional health

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“Spit for Science: The VCU Student Survey” returns this spring as a multi-cohort study with freshmen from 2011 and 2012 actively involved in the project for the first time ever. This study provides an opportunity for eligible students to participate in a confidential, university-wide project to help better understand how genetic and environmental factors contribute to alcohol use and emotional health.

Potential participants include any freshmen and sophomores who have previously participated, as well as freshmen 18 and older who have never participated. However, sophomores who did not participate during their freshman year will not be eligible to participate. Any participants that have withdrawn from the survey will not be contacted again.

All potential participants will receive information in the mail. The survey itself will be mailed to all eligible students on Feb. 7. The student researchers involved have had the chance to share their findings with the university at multiple research symposiums, such as in May and December of last year.  

From Feb. 11 to Feb. 22, “Spit for Science” staff will set up in the Franklin Street Gym to provide students who completed the survey with their $10 compensation and a newly designed “Spit for Science” T-shirt. Students who have not participated in the DNA component of the study will be given the opportunity to do so. Any student who participates and collects payment at Franklin Street Gym also will receive a reusable “Spit for Science” water bottle.

Involvement in all portions of the study is completely voluntary.

The study launched in fall 2011 and is led by Danielle M. Dick, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry, psychology and human and molecular genetics in the VCU School of Medicine, and Kenneth S. Kendler, M.D., an internationally renowned psychiatrist and director of the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics at VCU.

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