Since its inception in 1984, the Behavioral Science Training in Drug Abuse Research Program (BST) has become one of the nation's largest and oldest NRSA training programs, specializing in behavioral science research on drug abuse and related issues, especially HIV/AIDS and criminal justice. The BST program has trained 185 predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees-nearly half of them racial/ethnic minorities. This application requests authorization to maintain the current levels of appointments (7 postdoctoral and 9 predoctoral trainees) during each of Years 31 to 35. The BST program operates in a trans-academic environment and involves four collaborating institutions: Public Health Solutions, the grant administrator;National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. (NDRI), the training site;NYU's Center for HIV and Drug Use Research (a collaborating agency with NDRI);and the Department of Sociomedical Sciences in the Mailman School of Public Health (MSPH) at Columbia University, the university affiliate. The Principal Investigator, Dr. Gregory Falkin has managed the BST program for 28 years;he works closely with Dr. George De Leon, the program's Scientific Director, in all aspects of scientific and administrative operations. The BST core faculty consists of 45 leading researchers from the 4 participating organizations who provide highly structured and rigorous mentoring for BST trainees. The BST mission is to prepare behavioral scientists, especially racial/ethnic minorities, for careers in drug abuse research and allied fields. This is accomplished by (1) recruiting and appointing promising scientists, at least one third of whom are minorities, for traineeships;(2) providing advanced training in substantive topics including theory, research methods and practices, and the responsible conduct of research;and, (3) mentoring and advising trainees on their careers as well as their research and NIH grant submissions while in BST. In addition to a variety of weekly seminars and workshops, trainees participate regularly in supervised research-ample opportunities exist on about 180 grants and contracts of BST core faculty-and are encouraged to develop and conduct their own independent research. In addition to operating in a quasi-academic environment, distinguishing features of the BST program are that trainees comprise a multidisciplinary group from a wide range of behavioral disciplines, have the flexibility to choose the projects they will apprentice on from a large number of NIH studies, are encouraged to work on independent research, and postdocs are required to submit their own grant applications to NIDA. Together, these key features make BST a truly unique T32 training program. The BST's long-standing success is evident in the significant contributions of its 170 graduates and 15 current fellows. Many former trainees have distinguished themselves through research and publications-the number of publications by current and former trainees is conservatively estimated at over 1,250. BST trainees have been funded as PIs on over 30 grants from NIH, been Co-investigators on more than 40 NIH-funded projects, and obtained over 100 grants from other sources.
The mission of the Behavioral Sciences Training in Drug Abuse Research (BST) program is to develop a cadre of highly trained behavioral scientists, especially racial and ethnic minorities, with expertise in the areas of drug abuse and related public health issues, especially HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, and criminal justice. The BST graduates will have the capability to conduct cutting edge research on public health issues that impact various high-risk drug-involved populations (e.g., homeless youth, injection drug users, incarcerated mothers) as well as prevention and treatment interventions that have the potential to reduce the individual harms and social costs of drug abuse. BST anticipates that its graduates will be prepared to seek funding successfully from NIDA and other NIH institutes for their research and that they will contribute to the field through their publications, presentations at scientific conferences, and teaching.
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