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Psychology Professor Receives $1.25 M to Study Alcohol Intake, Binge Drinking

Stephen Boehm
Stephen Boehm


August 27, 2009

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The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at the National Institutes of Health recently awarded Stephen Boehm, Ph.D., a tenured associate professor of psychology at the Purdue School of Science at IUPUI, a five year grant for $1.25 million to extend research on the role gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors play in alcohol consumption and binge drinking.

Boehm’s research will provide information on the changes in brain GABA systems during alcohol intake to better understand alcohol use, binge drinking, tolerance and addiction.

GABA is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain that controls bodily systems. When alcohol is introduced it alters the GABA receptors causing different actions and reactions depending on the receptor sensitivity to alcohol. Boehm, who joined the IUPUI faculty in August, will explore the sensitivity of these receptors and corresponding actions to determine the importance of GABA systems and to what extent the systems change over repeated binge drinking episodes.

“The Indiana Alcohol Research Center at IUPUI is one of the nation’s leading alcohol addiction research centers,” said Boehm. “When I was given the opportunity to continue my research and teach at IUPUI, I was thrilled to join such a large contingency of alcohol researchers across several departments in science and medicine. This environment is nearly unmatched in the field and will be invaluable to the research we will be conducting over the next five years.”

For the past 15 years, Boehm’s studies in behavioral neuroscience, specifically the neurobiology of drug and alcohol addiction, have been recognized by peers and the medical community at large. His works are widely published internationally and have earned Boehm several fellowship and grant awards throughout his career.

“We are pleased Dr. Boehm has joined our faculty this fall bringing along a significant grant that will continue our efforts in understanding the effects of alcohol on the brain,” said Bart Ng, dean of the School of Science at IUPUI. “His study of the cellular and molecular actions of alcohol on the brain will positively influence treatment strategies for alcohol and other addictions in the medical community.”

Boehm joins the School of Science’s Department of Psychology from the State University of New York in Binghamton (SUNY). He completed his postdoctoral studies in behavioral and molecular pharmacology at the University of Texas at Austin. He received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Northern Colorado and a Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience from Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.

For more information about research in psychology or Boehm’s work at the School of Science at IUPUI, go to