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NIDA. (2014, May 6). Dr. Joni Rutter to lead NIDA’s genetics and basic science research division. Retrieved from

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Rutter to lead institute’s efforts to explore the relationship between genes, environment, and the neuroscience of addiction

May 06, 2014

Joni Rutter

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, is pleased to announce that Joni Rutter, Ph.D., has been named Division Director for the Division of Basic Neuroscience and Behavioral Research (DBNBR).  For the past three years, Dr. Rutter has served as acting director of DBNBR, leading her staff to build strategic directions for the science supported by the division. 

“We are excited to welcome Dr. Rutter as the new DBNBR Division Director,” said NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow. “Her extensive experience with how the study of genetics ties into drug abuse strengthens her role as a leader in a division dedicated to fundamentally preventing and stopping drug abuse.”

The division’s primary goal is to support basic biomedical and behavioral research to address the public health problem of drug addiction, including the neurobiological and behavioral mechanisms of drugs of abuse and their consequences.  DBNBR’s research portfolio includes research into the role of drug use in accelerating the progression and the transmission of HIV/AIDS and the effects of chronic pain and its treatments on drug use and addiction processes.  DBNBR also supports research into sex and gender differences as they relate to drug use and addiction.

Dr. Rutter’s career spans 15 years of excellent basic and clinical research in human genetics and the study of genetic and environmental risk factors in the fields of cancer and addiction.  She has earned a national and international reputation for her diverse and unique expertise in more than 50 publications in journals, and she received several scientific achievement awards, including a SmithKline Beecham Student Award in Pharmacology, a Janssen Research Foundation Young Investigator Award, and a Fellowship Achievement Award from the National Cancer Institute.  Rutter has also built, supported, and maintained the NIDA Genetics Consortium, a group of more than 20 investigators who study addiction genetics.

“I am delighted to lead this division’s efforts to advance the basic science of drug abuse and addiction,” said Dr. Rutter.  “My background as a geneticist fits well with NIDA’s commitment to staying at the forefront of scientific discovery, maximizing available resources to foster innovative ideas and scientific collaborations.”

Prior to joining NIDA in 2003, Dr. Rutter received her Ph.D. from the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, New Hampshire.  Upon completing her doctoral degree, she remained at Dartmouth Medical School as a research associate for a short period of time.  She then accepted a fellowship at the National Cancer Institute within the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics to fortify her training in human genetics.  Her scientific objective is to integrate genetic principles with the study of how drugs and chemicals act on the brain.