Racial/ethnic minorities are underrepresented among applicants seeking NIH research funding and among R01 NIH-funded researchers. The Learning for Early Careers in Addiction and Diversity (LEAD) program provides training to early-stage research scientists from underrepresented groups or disadvantaged backgrounds, aiming to increase the number of racial/ethnic minorities who conduct behavioral or pharmacological treatment research in drug abuse treatment. LEAD builds on the platform of the National Institute on Drug Abuse Clinical Trials Network (CTN), a network of scientists and treatment providers that offers a broad infrastructure for multi-site testing of science-based therapies. The training program also benefits from strong connections to training programs and faculty conducting clinical research at University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and the presence of the UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Institute.
Our specific aims are to: 1) Match trainee scholars with senior scientists in the CTN who will provide scientific mentoring and professional guidance, 2) provide scholars with support to conduct pilot research as a pathway to subsequent NIH applications, 3) assist scholars in developing grant-writing skills, with the goal of submitting competitive NIH applications during the LEAD training period, 4) offer training in cultural tailoring of evidence-based treatments, 5) provide scholars with knowledge and skills to address ethical, regulatory, and project management issues encountered in clinical trials, and 6) provide a networking structure to build relationships with leading experts in drug abuse clinical trials research. Scholars will participate in a 3-year training, consisting of a yearly 4-eek summer intensive program of seminars and meetings at UCSF, mentoring and training during the academic year, and participation in CTN national research and training meetings. Scholars will be matched with NIDA CTN senior investigators who will mentor them through the 3-year training period. In the first year, scholars will design and complete a financially supported pilot study, attend seminars to help them develop fundable grant proposals, and participate in CTN trainings to learn about current research topics and to network with national leaders in drug use research. In their second year, training will be focused on grant-writing incorporating preliminary data from the mentored project to support a training (i.e., K) or research (i.e., R03, R21, or R01) application to NIDA. In the third year, training will be focused on the re-submission of NIH applications, if necessary, preparation of manuscripts for publication, and dissemination of research findings at scientific meetings including the annual CTN Steering Committee meeting. A successful award for research or career development is the planned measurable outcome for the 9 early-stage investigators who participate in the program. The program addresses the need for investigators who have expertise in conducting culturally-competent drug abuse treatment research in diverse samples in the U.S. The long-term goal is to increase the number of PIs from underrepresented minority groups conducting drug abuse research.
While the U.S. is becoming more racially/ethnically diverse, with African American, Hispanics, and Native Americans representing 29.8% of the U.S. population, these groups are severely underrepresented among National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) grantees. Addressing this disparity is of critical importance and motivates NIDA to enhance its science education resources for minority early career scientists to increase their success with NIH applications. This program provides training to early-stage research scientists from underrepresented groups or disadvantaged backgrounds, aiming to increase the number of racial/ethnic minorities who lead culturally relevant behavioral or pharmacological treatment research;the goal is to produce multidisciplinary research leaders and strengthen the network of research and training for NIDA and its partnering organizations.