This component proposes a program for conducting Pilot Studies that advance the-Center's research agenda, generate independent grant applications relevant to the Center's focus on epidemiology of alcohol problems and services that respond to them, and are consistent with national priorities for alcohol research.
The aim of the Pilot Studies component is to provide the Center with a flexible means to develop and explore new research activities or directions and to provide unique scientific opportunities for research ideas with the potential to evolve into independently-funded research projects. All scientific staff, including scientists and postdoctoral fellows at the Alcohol Research Group, are eligible to apply for pilot funding. Preference is given to early-stage investigators and to projects that emerge from specific questions raised by Center or other ARG research. The pilots proposed here are a mix of epidemiologic and health services studies. In years 1-2 of the Center continuation period, we propose two 2-year pilot projects: Improving Measures of Alcohol Dependence for General Population Studies;and Kiosk-based Prenatal Screening and Intervention for Nutrition and Drinking. Years 3-5 we plan to fund two to four pilot studies, and are considering the following projects: Child Abuse and Clustered Risky Health Behaviors in the NAS;Social Networks as a Mechanism of Substance Abuse Recovery in Women with Trauma;and Relationship between Punitive Policies and Prenatal Care Utilization. The pilot projects identified to date for funding were put forward by former predoctoral fellows and former and current post-doctoral fellows in our T32 training program on alcohol epidemiology. The Pilot Studies component will be directed by Dr. Lee Ann Kaskutas, who is the Director of Training for the Center and is PI of our T32 grant at the University of California Berkeley. Management of the pilot component will be supported by the Center's Core Management Group, in a role parallel to that of the Training Program Faculty on the T32, with four members overlapping on both committees. Pilot Project Directors submit quarterly progress reports which include a current budget report, accomplishments for the quarter, plans for next quarter, and an indication of where the study is vis-a-vis the original project timeline;we have learned that close supervision and attention to early challenges is crucial. As with previous pilot projects funded through the Center, we anticipate that results from these pilots will help launch new careers and engender innovative lines of research, which will result in improved methods for measurement of and intervention on alcohol-related outcomes in general population and clinical samples.
Pilot projects provide new investigators with preliminary data for independent grant applications. Results from Pilot 1 could considerably reduce the number of individuals (especially young people) erroneously classified as having an alcohol use disorder, which would help to identify who would most benefit from treatment. The kiosk developed in Pilot 2 could help ensure that all pregnant women are screened, and if needed provided a brief intervention for alcohol use and nutritional intake, without requiring staff time.
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