Jessica Salvatore, Ph.D.

Dr. Jessica Salvatore

Research Assistant Professor
Developmental Psychology
8 N Harrison St, rm 101
(804) 828-8132

Research Assistant Professor
Ph.D. (2011), University of Minnesota

Doctoral Program Affiliation

Developmental Psychology


Research Interests

My background is in developmental psychology and behavior genetics, and the overarching goal of my program of research is to understand the interplay between genetic factors and close relationship factors in the onset, persistence and discontinuity of substance misuse. I bring together multiple methods within this line of work, including twin/family studies and molecular genetic studies. My currently funded projects include an NIAAA K01 Mentored Research Scientist Award, where the scientific goal is to bring together functional genomics and GWAS to examine how alcohol use disorder genetic predispositions influence pathways to emerging adulthood relationship quality and partner selection, and how characteristics of one’s relationship and partner further shape trajectories of alcohol misuse. I also have an active Genetics and Human Agency Initiative award (funded by the Templeton Foundation), which supports a conceptual/theoretical analysis of emergent, dyadic outcomes in genetically informed research. 

Select Publications

Salvatore, J. E., Larsson Lönn, S., Sundquist, J., Sundquist, K., & Kendler, K. S. (in press). Genetics, the rearing environment, and the intergenerational transmission of divorce: A Swedish national adoption study. Psychological Science.
Salvatore, J. E., Cho, S. B., & Dick, D. M. (2017). Genes, environments, and sex differences in alcohol research. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 78, 494-501. doi: 10.15288/jsad.2017.78.494
Salvatore, J. E., Larsson Lönn, S., Sundquist, J., Lichtenstein, P., Sundquist, K., & Kendler, K. (2017). Alcohol use disorder and divorce: Evidence for a genetic correlation in a population-based Swedish sample. Addiction, 112, 586-593. doi: 10.1111/add.13719
Salvatore, J. E., Thomas, N. S., Cho, S. B., Adkins, A., Kendler, K. S., & Dick, D. M. (2016). The role of romantic relationship status in pathways of risk for emerging adult alcohol use. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 30, 335-344. doi: 10.1037/adb0000145
Salvatore, J. E., Aliev, F., Edwards, A. C., Evans, D. M., Macleod, J., Hickman, M., . . . Dick, D. M. (2014). Polygenic scores predict alcohol problems in an independent sample and show moderation by the environment. Genes, 5, 330-346. doi: 10.3390/genes5020330

Recent Courses

  • Love and Drugs: The Science Behind Media Portrayals of Romance and Substances of Abuse, undergraduate level
  • The Nature and Nurture of Sports Performance, undergraduate level
  • Spit for Science: Conducting and Understanding Research, undergraduate level

Recent Grants

Genetics, Romantic Relationships, and Alcohol Misuse in Emerging Adulthood

Amount: $740,707
Role: Principal Investigator
Source: National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Period: 5/2016 - 4/2021
Number: K01AA024152

A Conceptual Analysis of the Dyad as a Unit of Analysis in Genetically Informed Research (Junior Investigator Award)

Amount: $7,500
Role: Principal Investigator
Source: Genetics and Human Agency Initiative (Templeton Foundation Award)
Period: 8/2016 - 7/2017

Genetically-Informed Designs of Externalizing Behavior and Romantic Relationships

Role: Principal Investigator
Source: National Research Service Award
Period: 9/2013 - 9/2015
Number: F32AA022269

Genetic Predispositions to Alcohol and Substance Use Problems and Romantic Relationship Functioning: Evidence for Mediation, Moderation, and Assortative Mating?

Role: Principal Investigator
Source: VCU Postdoctoral Association
Period: 9/2013 - 9/2014

Recent Awards

  • 2016-2021, Mentored Research Scientist Award, National Institutes of Health
  • 2014-2016, Loan Repayment Program Award, National Institutes of Health
  • 2013-2015, National Research Service Award, National Institutes of Health

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