The long-term goal of the training program is to equip our predoctoral students and postdoctoral fellows with the knowledge base and the research skills to compete successfully in the world of substance use disorder (SUD) research. For the past 19 years, the Drug Abuse Training Program at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) has trained predoctoral and postdoctoral scholars who are cognizant of multiple preclinical and clinical dimensions of the SUD problem. The objectives of the training program are (1) to integrate a diverse group of trainees into various funded addiction-related research programs with appropriate mentors, (2) to provide general knowledge about SUDs and related treatment research, (3) to expose trainees to appropriate role models, (4) to expose students to issues related to scientific ethics and diversity issues, (5) to teach trainees communication skill, (6) to teach trainees how to prepare a research grant application and transition to individual training grants, (7) to help each fellow gain an appreciation of both clinical and basic science research, and (8) to assist trainees in finding appropriate outplacement. There has been tremendous growth and development of neuroscience faculty who conduct preclinical and clinical SUD research in NIH-funded centers at MUSC within the past decade. Concomitant with this growth has been an explosion in training program applicants who are eager to learn from this highly interactive faculty. Thus, support to continue this training program at the level of si postdoctoral (2 each in levels 0, 1, and 2) and four predoctoral trainees per year for five years i requested. There are now five major preclinical and clinical research opportunities: neurobiology of relapse to (1) cocaine-seeking or (2) methamphetamine-seeking, (3) sex and gender differences in vulnerability to SUDs, (4) stress and substance use disorders, and (5) neurobiology and treatment of nicotine dependence. Since the main sites of research training are in very close proximity to one another, there is coordination of educational (courses, seminars, journal clubs) and research (preclinical and clinical) opportunities. Coupled to the environment is a comprehensive training package incorporating didactic material, clinical experiences, and research experience that provides an ideal training experience that is evaluated on an annual basis. Recruitment and selection of trainees is accomplished by the Program Directors and Steering Committee members. Augmented recruitment and retention of under-represented individuals is accomplished in partnership with the College of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs Office at MUSC. Eligible mentors are those with actively funded substance abuse-related research projects and matching of trainees with mentors is by mutual consent. Based on past experience, the NIDA training program at MUSC has been very successful in placing our trainees in highly-productive postdoctoral and faculty-level positions through which they continue to contribute to SUD research and treatment.
The effectiveness of treating substance use disorders is based on our understanding of drug addiction and the currently available intervention approaches. The proposed project addresses this need by providing young basic and clinical scientists with the knowledge base and the research skills to investigate the neurobiology of addiction and develop therapeutic strategies to treat substance use disorders.
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