Problem teenage drinking - Cause or consequence of depression and antisocial personality disorder in young adulthood?

PhD project (3/4 yr research project leading to independent research at the doctorate level)

Dr Luisa Zuccolo, Prof Matthew Hickman, Dr Jon Heron

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Problem drinking in adolescence is associated with both internalising and externalising disorders such as depression and antisocial personality disorder (Boden and Fergusson; Odgers et al). However, the direction of influence is not always clear, based on results from observational studies alone.

Aims & objectives

This project aims to understand the causal link between teenage alcohol use and both internalising and externalising disorders, such as depression and conduct disorder / antisocial personality disorder, through approaches that enhance causal inference such as Mendelian randomization (Gage et al).


The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) will be used for this project. A wealth of data collected prospectively is available on a large number of offspring and their parents, which makes this cohort study a unique resource to exploit in order to answer the research question. The first phase of the project will allow the student to familiarise with multilevel modelling as well as to the analysis of genome-wide association data, to relate common genetic variation to alcohol drinking trajectories from early adolescence through to early adulthood , in order to develop genetic predictors of problem teenage drinking (risk allele score). The student will then use the genetic predictor in Mendelian randomization analyses to interrogate the causal nature of the association between teenage drinking and depression and antisocial personality disorder in young adulthood.


Boden JM, Fergusson DM. Addiction 2011; 106(5):906-914
Odgers CL et al. Dev Psychopathol 2008; 20(2):673-716
Gage SH et al. Depress Anxiety 2013; 30(12):1185-93

Created on Oct. 1, 2015, 9 a.m.

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