The research of Victor M. Karpyak, M.D., Ph.D., involves the discovery of biological markers allowing efficient diagnosis of alcohol and substance use disorders.
These diagnostic markers help improve care in community-based treatment programs. His research projects are focused on challenges that patients and treatment teams encounter in day-to-day recovery efforts.
Dr. Karpyak's research includes, but is not limited to, searching for genomic, metabolomic and related markers. Metabolomic refers to the study of small molecules.
He explores sex- and gender-specific differences in these markers, which may contribute to the risk of alcohol and substance use disorders and impact treatment outcomes.
Additionally, Dr. Karpyak mentors residents, fellows and junior faculty members at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, in areas including:
- The Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.
- The Department of Psychiatry and Psychology.
- The Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia C. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery.
Many of his former mentees now have faculty positions in academic departments of psychiatry, including at Mayo Clinic's campuses in Minnesota and Arizona, and have been awarded highly competitive research support grants from Mayo Clinic and the National Institutes of Health.
- Dr. Karpyak's research interests include the search for pharmacogenomic biomarkers associated with treatment outcomes. He served as a principal investigator for the pharmacogenomic component, project 2, in the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)-funded P20 grant. This supported the development of the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Treatment of Alcohol Dependence.
- Dr. Karpyak and his colleague Joanna M. Biernacka, Ph.D., received a research grant from NIAAA for a study titled "Pharmacogenomics of Acamprosate Treatment Outcome."
- Dr. Karpyak researches the treatment of alcohol withdrawal and its complications. He and Dr. Biernacka recently received funding from NIAAA for a project titled "Genomics of Alcohol Withdrawal and Treatment Response to Benzodiazepines".
This project will conduct genomewide association studies to discover markers in a newly assembled sample of more than 18,000 people with alcohol use disorder. The sample includes approximately 1,000 people being treated with benzodiazepines.
- Dr. Karpyak studies the impact of sex-related differences on alcoholism and related phenotypes. He and Stacey J. Winham, Ph.D., received an NIAAA-funded R21 grant for a study titled "Impact of Sex-Related Hormone Levels and Genetic Variation on Alcohol Use Disorders and Related Phenotypes in Males and Females."
- Together with a team of clinical collaborators, Dr. Karpyak investigates the role of clinical markers as predictors of post-treatment relapse. These studies reveal the association of cravings, mood changes and sleep problems with relapse.
This research emphasizes the need for measurement of these clinical variables at different stages of alcoholism treatment and recovery. The research allows the development of working relationships with a team of clinicians interested in research and support of clinical trials.
Significance to patient care
Dr. Karpyak's research discovers biological markers allowing efficient diagnosis of alcohol and substance use disorders and improved treatment responses in patients in community-based treatment programs. His research also grants easier implementation of study findings for the benefit of this population.
- Director, Addiction Services, Mayo Clinic, 2013-2019.
- Medical director, Intensive Addiction Program, Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Mayo Clinic, 2013-2019.
- Editorial board member, Scientific Reports, 2017.