This proposal requests a new research education program in substance use disorders to support undergraduate students pursuing short term summer research experiences at the Medical University of South Carolina. Each year, fourteen undergraduate students will have the opportunity to conduct biomedical research projects under the guidance of faculty mentors based primarily in the Department of Neurosciences. The ten- week summer research projects conducted by the students will culminate in a formal scientific presentation. Additional activities include a lecture series on focused topics;a research ethics component;formal and informal discussions on the meaning of scientific literacy, professional development and career opportunities;and social functions. Our participating faculty constitutes a highly collaborative, interdisciplinary team of laboratory-based researchers. Training opportunities are thematically organized around four areas of research: neurobiological basis of cocaine relapse;neurobiology of methamphetamine dependence;sex and gender- related research in substance use disorders;and stress and substance use disorders. The program builds upon and leverages (1) MUSC's strong and continued commitment to research training;(2) its excellent reputation in providing meaningful research experiences for talented undergraduate students;(3) its track record of attracting students from underrepresented groups and undergraduate institutions, and (4) its effective program management.
The goal of this program is to attract talented undergraduate students into careers in the biomedical sciences, particularly in fields relevant to the mission of the National Institute of Drug Abuse. This is expected to increase the supply of qualified investigators who are studying substance use disorders, as well as contribute to overall science literacy by equipping students with appropriate science skills and an appreciation for biomedical research.