The objective of the Basic Science Training Program in Drug Abuse Research (DAR) at UT Southwestern is the training of predoctoral and postdoctoral research fellows in a broad range of biological research methods relevant to substance abuse and addictive disorders. The DAR fills a critical need by fueling the number of high-quality basic science researchers in the field of drug abuse. There are numerous strengths of the DAR. The DAR Faculty Members are exemplary in their research, funding, and mentoring records relevant to addiction biology. Our past trainee record is excellent, and our potential trainee pool has notable breadth and depth. There has been an explosive interest specifically in neuroscience research at UT Southwestern, an institution traditionally known for world-class molecular and cellular biology, making this an ideal place to recruit trainees from diverse disciplines into addiction research. As for atmosphere, UT Southwestern is an outstanding place in which to conduct basic, interdisciplinary, and frequently cutting-edge biomedical research, and UT Southwestern has the resources and capabilities to build significantly on the 20-year history of the DAR. UT Southwestern also offers a preexisting integration of basic science research with nationally recognized clinical programs in addiction and access to imaging facilities and tissue repository, thus providing truly translational research opportunities. A fina strength is the demonstrated commitment of our DAR Faculty to encouraging faculty members outside the addiction field to turn their considerable talent towards the advancement of our knowledge of the addicted brain, thus forging novel avenues for the treatment and prevention of drug abuse. The DAR is extremely collaborative, as its Faculty Members in diverse academic divisions (Psychiatry, Neuroscience, Neurology &Neurotherapeutics, Developmental Biology, Cell Biology, Internal Medicine) work closely to integrate their findings and thus achieve a more holistic and clinically relevant understanding of the addicted phenotype. For this competitive renewal, we updated the Program in response to Trainee and Board Member feedback. For example, in response to the large number of qualified applicants we turn away each year, we request funds to support 6 predoctoral and 5 postdoctoral Trainees for 2-3 years. In response to our Trainee desire for more integrated and relevant experiences, we have introduced novel ways for Trainees to interact with and learn from each other, DAR Faculty, and the broader addiction research community in Dallas, and we have provided numerous Trainee career-development programs. However, we have kept the key aspects of the DAR that have been so successful: exceptionally high-quality mentors, cutting-edge research, translational opportunities, and an atmosphere conducive to performing the best research possible. Renewal of the DAR is critical to ensuring continued exceptional pre- and postdoctoral research training in addiction neurobiology at our institution, which will help NIDA with its mission of bringing the power of science to bear on substance abuse and addictive disorders.
The Basic Science Training Program in Drug Abuse Research (DAR) is designed to encourage the best basic scientists-in-training to turn their attention to studying substance abuse and addictive disorders, with a purposeful endpoint being the development of new treatments for addiction. The basic research that is ongoing in the Department of Psychiatry has already inspired many UT Southwestern researchers to pursue research relevant to addiction. This DAR's goal of attracting and inspiring additional young scientists to pursue addiction research is both warranted and feasible given the truly exceptional and translational nature of the researchers, environment, and trainees offered by UT Southwestern.
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