The purpose of this application is to establish an integrative predoctoral training program in the neuroscience of drug abuse at Indiana University.
Research aim ed at the problem of drug abuse has seen remarkable advances in recent years, driven in large part by a rapidly expanding arsenal of technological innovations at all levels of analysis from ion channel, proteins to human brain mapping. But as the science becomes increasingly complex and specialized, there is a growing danger that opportunities for integration and interaction across disciplines will be lost. Narrowly focused researchers cannot produce the well-rounded scientists the field needs - scientists who have the flexibility to respond to changing techniques and paradigms and who can understand and appreciate the multi-faceted problem of drug abuse. If the expanding research knowledge base is to lead to effective prevention and treatment strategies, the time has come to put a translational perspective on research training. To meet this need, we have assembled a dedicated group of faculty trainers drawn from the Program in Neuroscience and the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. This group, which has, a strong and longstanding tradition of collaboration on issues directly relevant to drug abuse, includes senior and junior investigators, molecular neurobiologists and cognitive neuroscientists, and animal behaviorists and clinical scientists. Working together in a state-or-the-art research environment, this group has access to a pool of highly talented trainees motivated to become the next generation of drug abuse researchers. The proposed training program involves trainees in three key components: integrative course work, translational research training, and professional skills development. Course work covers basic neuro- and psychopharmacology, provides an integrative view of biobehavioral processes in substance use disorders, and concludes with an overall perspective on the translation of theoretical and empirical knowledge as it applies to different experimental approaches. Research is guided by a mentor in cellular, systems, cognitive, or clinical neuroscience interacting with a co-mentor representing a different but complimentary level of analysis. This integrative approach is reinforced through discussion groups, attendance at colloquia, and participation at national meetings. Trainees also learn to develop skills in grant writing, manuscript preparation, and teaching. In short, a combination of course work and research training aimed at integrating and translating bench and bedside approaches will create scientists well prepared for the next decade of research on the addicted brain.
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