About this event

  • Date and time Mon 29 Mar 2021 from 5:30pm to 6:35pm
  • Location Online
  • Organised by Medical Genetics

The seventh webinar in The genetics of… series. In this webinar, participants will have the chance to recognise the arguments for and against the role of genetics in addictive behaviour. Leaders in their fields will engage in a discussion to explore the role of DNA in driving addiction and to consider how epigenetic factors display the interplay of nature versus nurture.

During this webinar you will:

  • Discuss the evidence in favour of a genetic aetiology behind addictive behaviour 
  • Recognise the controversy around the existence of genetic factors in causing addictive behaviours 
  • Understand the evidence for epigenetic modifications to the genetic code as being factors associated with environmental exposures to addictive substances and behavioural traits 

The genetics of… series has been developed following feedback from delegates attending the Genetics of COVID-19 webinars. Presented by the Medical Genetics section of the Royal Society of Medicine, this series of talks will focus on the role of genetics in different areas of health and well-being.

This activity has been supported by a grant from Roche Products Limited. Roche Products Limited has had no input into the arrangement or educational content of this activity.

A CPD certificate with 1 CPD credit will be issued to those joining each webinar live and will be automatically issued after 7 days  to those who watched the webinar live in its entirety. Those who watch the webinar on-demand will receive a CPD certificate 30 days after the webinar has gone live.  

Join in the conversation online using #RSMLive
Follow us on Twitter: @RoySocMed 

Registration for this webinar will close 2 hours prior to the start time. You will receive the webinar link 2 hours before the meeting. Late registrations will not be accepted. 

Key speakers

Professor Henrietta Bowden-Jones OBE

President, Psychiatry Section, Royal Society of Medicine

Speaker's biography

Professor Henrietta Bowden-Jones OBE is a medical doctor and neuroscience researcher working as Consultant psychiatrist in Addictions leading two national clinics in the UK. She was appointed Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2019 New Year’s Honours for Services to Addiction Treatment and to Research. Honorary Senior Visiting Research Fellow in Psychiatry, Cambridge University. Immediate Past President, Medical Women’s Federation. Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Spokesperson on Behavioural Addictions. Honorary Professor, UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences.  Psychiatry President, Royal Society of Medicine (2020-2022) Psychiatrist of the Year 2020 Award. Royal College of Psychiatrists. Founder and Director of the National Problem Gambling Clinic, the first NHS treatment centre in the UK for the treatment of problem gamblers which she set up in 2008. Founder and Director of the National Centre for Gaming Disorders, the first NHS clinic in the UK treating Gaming Disorder. Regular expert advisor to both Westminster and the House of Lords on matters pertaining to gambling disorder, gaming disorder and mental health.  Recipient of many national and international prizes and awards. As well as graduating in Medicine and specialising in Psychiatry with a CCST in Addiction Psychiatry, Henrietta also pursued a research career and a Medical Doctorate in Neuroscience from Imperial College (Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex impairment in Alcohol Dependency) Founder and joint Chair of the National UK Research Network for Behavioural Addictions ( NUK-BA) based at Cambridge University and comprising of several researchers from leading universities. Executive Board member of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Addiction (ISSBA). She has published several books and has an extensive publication list in a whole range of peer reviewed journals.  To view research and books www.henriettabowdenjones.com/publications/ Follow her on twitter @HBowdenJonesOBE

Dr Eric J Nestler

Nash Family Professor of Neuroscience, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Dean for Academic and Scientific Affairs and Director, Friedman Brain Institute

Speaker's biography

Dr Nestler is the Nash Family Professor of Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, where he serves as Dean for Academic and Scientific Affairs and Director of the Friedman Brain Institute. He received his B.A., Ph.D., and M.D. degrees, and psychiatry residency training, from Yale University. He served on the Yale faculty from 1987-2000, where he was the Elizabeth Mears and House Jameson Professor of Psychiatry, Pharmacology, and Neurobiology, and Director of the Division of Molecular Psychiatry. He moved to Dallas in 2000 where he was the Lou and Ellen McGinley Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center until moving to New York in 2008. Dr Nestler is a member of National Academy of Medicine (1998) and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2005). He is a past President of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (2011) and the Society for Neuroscience (2017). He is a founder and scientific advisory board chair for PsychoGenics, and a member of the Board of Directors of Berg Pharma. The author of more than 600 publications and five books, the goal of Dr Nestler’s research is to better understand the molecular basis of drug addiction and depression. His research uses animal models of these disorders to identify the ways in which drugs of abuse or stress change the brain to lead to addiction- or depression-like syndromes, and to use this information to develop improved treatments of these disorders.

Dr Nora D Volkow

Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse

Speaker's biography

Nora D. Volkow, M.D., is the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. Dr. Volkow’s scientific research was instrumental in demonstrating that drug addiction is a disease of the human brain and, as NIDA Director, her work has promoted research that improves the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders. As a research psychiatrist, Dr. Volkow pioneered the use of brain imaging to investigate the toxic and addictive effects of abusable drugs. Her studies documented disruption of the dopamine system in addiction with its consequential functional impairment of frontal brain regions involved with motivation, executive function and self-regulation. She has also made important contributions to the neurobiology of obesity, and ADHD and has published more than 820 peer-reviewed articles, written more than 100 book chapters and non-peer-reviewed manuscripts, co-edited a Neuroscience Encyclopedia and edited four books on neuroimaging for mental and addictive disorders.


View the programme

Welcome and introduction
Addiction: The phenotype

Professor Henrietta Bowden-Jones OBE, President, Psychiatry Section, Royal Society of Medicine

Transcriptional and epigenetic mechanisms of addiction

Dr Eric J Nestler, Nash Family Professor of Neuroscience, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Dean for Academic and Scientific Affairs and Director, Friedman Brain Institute

Genes: How they affect our brains and drug responses

Dr Nora D Volkow, Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse

Panel discussion
Close of meeting



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The fourth webinar in The genetics of… series. In this webinar, specialists will be exploring the role that genetics plays in musical and sporting ability and whether there is evidence to suggest that intelligence could be inherited. We will also be joined by the incredibly talented musical guest Sheku Kanneh-Mason and his mother Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason

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The genetics of criminality: Episode 5

The fifth webinar in The genetics of… series. This webinar will explore the role genetics plays in influencing criminal activity and violent behaviour. We will be hearing from leading researchers in this fascinating field of science, arguing for and against the existence of genetic factors and exploring the role of epigenetics in the study of criminality. 

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The genetics of forensic medicine: Episode 6

The sixth webinar in The genetics of… series. In this webinar, we will hear from expert speakers about the way that DNA has revolutionised forensic science. Participants will learn about the unique regions in the genetic code that allow fingerprints to identify individuals and how these became the mainstay of forensic medicine. Join us to hear how direct to consumer testing has helped to solve crimes and how molecular information is stored on the national DNA database.

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The genetics of ancient DNA and health: Episode 8

The eighth webinar in The genetics of… series. This unique and exciting webinar will allow participants to explore studies of ancient DNA and understand how it can inform us about the health of our species today. We have an unmissable chance to hear from specialists in the field blazing trails and harnessing key messages hidden within the genetics of our predecessors. 

Registration for this webinar will close 2 hours prior to the start time. You will receive the webinar link 2 hours before the meeting. Late registrations will not be accepted. 

Special rates for difficult times 
The RSM wishes to offer healthcare professionals continued learning opportunities during the coronavirus pandemic. The RSM’s weekly COVID-19 Series webinars remain free of charge, while there will be small charges to register for other online education. These fees will enable the RSM to continue its programme of activities and will apply during the course of the pandemic.

Webinar recordings will be available for registered delegates up to 30 days after the live webinar, via Zoom. The link will be sent 24 hours after the webinar takes place. 

This webinar will be recorded and stored by the Royal Society of Medicine and may be distributed in future on various internet channels.  

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