This application requests a second renewal of five years of support for a successful interdisciplinary and translational training program in broad-based contemporary aspects of drug abuse research. Training the next generation of drug abuse researchers is critical to current and future public health challenges associated with drug addiction. The goal is to prepare trainees for productive and successful careers in drug abuse research. This program proposes to support 4 predoctoral and 2 postdoctoral trainees. We will vigorously recruit individuals from underrepresented minorities, disadvantaged backgrounds, and individuals with disabilities to increase diversity. This program provides a highly collaborative environment of interdisciplinary and translational training in drug abuse research. The 17 training faculty represent 7 academic units, have excellent training records, and will provide a rich interdisciplinary training environment. The program fosters the development of essential experimental and critical thinking skills, and provides the opportunity to gain an in depth understanding of and expertise in the interrelationships of the molecular/cellular aspects of receptors and signaling mechanisms involved in the neural and behavioral response to drugs of abuse and to become immersed in drug discovery and development in the pursuit of novel treatments for drug abuse. The overarching theme of the program is that drug addiction alters fundamental cellular and macromolecular processes resulting in long term changes in neural plasticity and behavior, which can be treated using pharmacotherapeutic intervention. The curriculum provides knowledge from physicochemical properties of molecules to structural biology, neurophysiology, neurochemistry, to animal and human behavior, with numerous opportunities for in depth study of focused areas of drug abuse research. The breadth of drug abuse research opportunities is enhanced by strong links to the University of Kentucky's (UK's) Center on Drug and Alcohol Research, the Center for Drug and Alcohol Research Translation, the Center for Clinical and Translational Science, the Center for Pharmaceutical Research and Innovation, the Laboratory on Human Behavioral Pharmacology and the Residential Research Facility. This program provides "value added" by serving as a linchpin to networking, interactions and collaborations with other trainees and training faculty focused on human behavioral and clinical aspects of drug abuse research and supported by a second T32 program directed by Dr. Craig Rush at UK. All positions in both T32 programs have been filled completely during the last funding period, indicative of the large number of promising trainees in drug abuse research at UK. UK provides solid infrastructure and institutional support, optimizing the training environment. The majority of program graduates continue to actively pursue drug abuse research and advance towards independent investigator status. In the upcoming funding period, we propose to continue our record of success and develop responsible and ethical drug abuse researchers, who will move the field of drug abuse forward.
The goal of this training program is to prepare promising predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees for productive and successful careers in drug abuse research, a critical endeavor for current and future public health challenges associated with drug addiction. The program fosters the development of essential experimental and critical thinking skills and focused expertise on the interrelationships of cellular and molecular aspects of receptors and signaling mechanisms involved in the response to drugs of abuse within the context of drug discovery and development of novel treatments for drug abuse. Our program provides a highly collaborative environment of interdisciplinary and translational training in drug abuse research coupled with opportunities for networking and collaboration to advance our trainees towards independent investigator status in drug abuse research.
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