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Ann M. Manzardo, Ph.D.

Ann Manzardo portrait
Associate Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Professional Background

I am a behavioral pharmacologist with twenty years of experience in translational research and statistical analysis of psychiatric disorders focusing on risk factors, etiology, course and co-morbidities of alcoholism and the addictions. This includes extensive experience in database development, data management and analysis. My thesis research involved utilized rat self-administration modeling to investigate the reinforcement properties of cocaine, heroin and nicotine. I also have advanced training and experience in genomic research using advanced genomic technologies including biostatistics and bioinformatics, structural and functional microarray and sequencing (gene and transcriptome) analysis as applied to the genetics of alcoholism, Prader-Willi syndrome, autism and other disorders. I have directed funded research projects and clinical trials [e.g., benfotiamine treatment in alcoholism] resulting in over 85 peer-reviewed publications describing genotype/phenotype associations in psychiatric and rare diseases including the evaluation of functional relationships between behavioral, genetic, cytokine and neuropeptide profiles in alcoholism.



My early clinical and pre-clinical research focused on psychosocial and neurobiological risk factors for alcohol and substance use disorders emphasizing the role of early childhood development and co-morbid psychiatric illnesses. My research utilized data from the Danish longitudinal Study on Alcoholism, a 50-yr old Danish birth cohort, and Danish National Registries to characterize psychosocial and neurodevelopmental factors predictive of alcoholism. These studies identified gender-selective developmental markers related to premature birth that predicted later alcoholism in males and may reflect predisposing disruption of brain neurocircuitry.

These research activities and discoveries led me to examine the role of nutritional factors in alcoholism pathology and their impact on drinking behaviors and recovery in a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial of benfotiamine, a highly efficacious thiamine analogue, in alcoholism. This study found reduced alcohol consumption in females treated with benfotiamine and reduced psychiatric symptomatology in males with severe alcoholism supporting the possible utility of benfotiamine supplementation as an adjuvant therapy for alcoholism rehabilitation particularly in the outpatient setting. Further genomic characterization of this sample led to additional findings of immunological and other factors influencing behavioral outcomes in alcoholism.

My continued professional development and collaborative relationships at the University of Kansas Medical Center lead to the exploration of genetic mechanisms associated with alcoholism pathology and other common and rare genetic disorders using advanced genetic platforms and bioinformatics methods. These techniques were applied to the examination of DNA methylation, structural, functional miRNA and exon level disturbances, gene and transcriptome sequencing in alcoholism, Prader-Willi syndrome, Alstrom syndrome, autism and other disorders.

My long-standing research collaboration with Merlin G. Butler has advanced understanding of the clinical and molecular characteristics of Prader-Willi syndrome and course over the lifespan through detailed clinical and genomic investigation with genotype-phenotype association studies.