Drs. Cottler and Latimer propose a resubmission for a new NIDA T32 at the University of Florida (UF) combining over 40 years of mentoring leadership with an array of innovative new partnerships at UF. Both NIDA Training Directors at their former institutions (Washington University and Johns Hopkins University), the PIs are teaming up to offer graduate and post-graduate addiction training in their respective departments, Epidemiology (Cottler) and Clinical and Health Psychology (Latimer) both in the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions. The justification for a new NIDA training program for 4 Pre Docs and 2 Post Docs each year is: a) increased health disparities related to the harmful consequences of drug use;b) a significant shortage of scientists in the drug abuse field;c) our strong academic and research environment at UF which is ripe for producing public health oriented scientists and clinicians;d) the underrepresentation of NIDA and other NIH T32 training programs in the Southeast region of the US;e) a strong and enthusiastic group of mentors who have an excellent track record to train nationally and internationally prominent substance abuse researchers;and f) the commitment of the State and UF's President to be a top ten public university, which brings additional resources for research. The core innovative aspect of this new public health oriented T32 is the focus on the epidemiology and prevention of substance use and its consequences and co-morbidities, with a focus on social determinants of health and health inequalities, and the development of behavioral interventions to reduce substance use and its harmful consequences. The training program is crafted with a clear application to practice and public health both domestically and internationally, given the PIs'and mentors'focus. While UF is an excellent training environment, there are few NIH T32s. Thus, the proposed T32 will: i. train talented individuals to independently work from the individual leve (behavioral interventions) to the population level (exposure and consequences of addiction) to eliminate health inequalities related to substance use and its consequences;ii. provide trainees with an apprenticeship style education to master skills to critically evaluate data, conduct multiple aspects of addiction research and become successful, and independent investigators who contribute to the field;iii. train individuals to understand, apply and maintain the highest ethical standards in their science and scholarship and be socially responsible investigators.
The UF Substance Abuse Program in Public Health will train psychologists and epidemiologists to be leaders in the field to focus on basic high need areas: the epidemiology and prevention of substance use and its consequences, and the development of behavioral interventions to reduce substance use and its harmful consequences. The Association of Schools of Public Health states that the US will require 250,000 additional public health workers by 2020, or one-third the workforce. It also estimates that one-third of academic researchers will retire in the next decade. While NIDA has approximately 60 training programs that focus on pre-doctoral, post-doctoral or a combination of both, the programs are largely focused on neuropharmacology and neurobiology. Fewer programs are focused on epidemiology/prevention/interventions. No program addresses all three. There is a disparity in the geographic representation as most programs concentrate in the northeast corridor and mid-west. Thus, the public health relevance of this program is very strong.