This proposal seeks support for a pre- and postdoctoral training program on the Translational Neuroscience of Drug Addiction (TNDA) at UCLA (5-year competitive renewal, with positions for five predoctoral and three postdoctoral fellows). Four participating programs/departments host TNDA trainees: Brain Research Inst. (administering the Neuroscience Interdepartmental training program), Dept. Psychology, Dept. Molecular & Medical Pharmacology, Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behavior, the first three offering doctoral training programs. TNDA has five aims: 1) to recruit and enroll highl qualified candidates who are interested in and committed to translational research in drug addiction (including vigorously recruiting from underrepresented populations); 2) to provide hands-on experience at all stages of addiction research, including evidence-based hypothesis formation, experimental design, data acquisition and analyses, and preparing findings for oral and written presentation; 3) ; to ensure that trainees develop expertise in a specific research area and supporting technology, while providing opportunities for trainees to acquire the breadth of knowledge needed to conduct translational research in drug addiction; 4) to provide the resources, opportunities, and training that will enable trainees to use preliminary data in generating novel hypotheses and specific aims for NIH grant proposals, laying the groundwork for success in securing funding to pursue independent research; and 5) to provide career guidance so that trainees can successfully identify and secure professional positions allowing them to use the skills and knowledge obtained from TNDA. Accordingly, TNDA provides comprehensive interdisciplinary training through formal education and supervised research. Methodological issues and techniques are emphasized, and rigorous education in the ethics of conducting scientific research is provided. The participating mentors have active research programs at all levels of analysis - from cell and molecular biology and integrative study in animal models to brain imaging and cognitive neuroscience in humans. TNDA trainees have a primary project in a specific mentor's laboratory, but gain exposure to other areas of research through laboratory rotations, common core training, as well as by formal and informal interaction among TNDA faculty and leadership, including organized professional and social events for TNDA trainees. The Program Director and participating faculty have excellent records in research and past mentorship and strive to provide trainees with the knowledge needed to plan and conduct integrative, translational studies.
By its own right and through its contributions to medical disorders, violence, crime and accidents, drug abuse is a major determinant of mortality and societal burden. Despite high public health significance of the problem, treatment and prevention of drug abuse are limited by lack of knowledge regarding its neural bases. The UCLA Training Program on the Translational Neuroscience of Drug Addiction (TNDA) provides multidisciplinary training that spans the fundamental bases of addiction from the genome to neural phenotypes and ultimately the syndrome of addiction, with particular strength in molecular and cellular neurobiology, brain imaging, and behavioral neuroscience.
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