The overarching goal of the program being proposed at The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), entitled Vulnerability Issues in Drug Abuse (VIDA) is to create a collaborative research and training environment that advances knowledge about drug addiction and drug use prevention in a border community. This program maintains a focus on individuals of Mexican descent, while bringing together a group of faculty and students who are diverse with respect to gender, culture, ethnicity, and disciplines at UTEP. The program seeks to increase the number of faculty and students who conduct drug related research at UTEP. El Paso's location on the U.S. - Mexico border provides unique opportunities for investigating the relationship between drug abuse vulnerability and cultural factors, socioeconomic challenges, and neurobiological mechanisms. These concepts form the basis of the research and training theme of the proposed project: social and biological factors that contribute to drug abuse vulnerability. The UTEP VIDA project brings together researchers from the health, social/behavioral and biological sciences and public policy in synergistic activities that integrate the neuroscience and socio-cultural dimensions of drug use vulnerability in Hispanics of Mexican origin, an understudied population. With a student population that is approximately 80% Hispanic, UTEP is also uniquely poised to train underrepresented students in drug abuse research. The long term goal of the proposed program is to increase UTEP's institutional capacity for training graduate and undergraduate students in drug-related research and fostering basic and applied drug related research among new and established UTEP faculty. The proposed program will help create a cross disciplinary and collaborative atmosphere that will lead to future translational research.
The Specific Aims of the project are to 1) increase the institutional capacity for collaborative drug abuse research across disciplines;2) increase the number of UTEP faculty in multiple disciplines who become skilled in conducting drug abuse research;and 3) recruit and train graduate students to improve their research skills, enabling them to attain advanced degrees and pursue careers in drug-abuse disciplines.
The UTEP VIDA project supports NIDA's mission of bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction by integrating a broad range of disciplines and research and disseminating results that impact all stages of substance abuse and addiction.
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