This K02 Independent Scientist Award will significantly expand my potential to make important contributions to the field of drug abuse by increasing my knowledge of the neurobiology of addictions and allowing me to obtain expertise in neuroimaging and image analysis methodology. Over the past 17 years, my program of research has focused on substance use disorders (SUD), stress, and co-occurring posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with a particular focus on the development of theory-based, concurrent behavioral interventions for comorbid SUD/PTSD. As a licensed clinical psychologist, my training and background has afforded me skills in research design, structured clinical and diagnostic interviews, conduct of randomized controlled trials, psychotherapy development, and human laboratory paradigms. In the last 20 years, extraordinary methodologic advances have led to incredible growth in understanding the neurobiologic underpinnings of addictions and other psychiatric disorders. The Psychiatry and Neuroscience Departments at MUSC have a constellation of faculty who have been leaders in research in this area. There has also been exponential growth in neuroimaging expertise on the MUSC campus, providing an opportunity for me to learn from and collaborate with world-renowned experts. My ongoing NIDA-sponsored R01 is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of integrated treatment for SUD and PTSD among Veterans (R01 DA030143). Through collaborations with the MUSC imaging group, a protocol to obtain functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) before and after treatment was added to my R01 project to permit examination of neural mechanisms underlying SUD/PTSD comorbidity and identify potential targets for treatment. However, my lack of formal training in neurobiology, neuroimaging and image analysis methodology will limit my ability to realize the full potential of the data collected. Thus, the primary career development goals of this K02 application are: (1) To obtain training in the neurobiology of both SUD and PTSD in order to better understand the neurobiologic SUD/PTSD interface; (2) To gain a solid foundation in neuroimaging and image analysis methodology in order to apply these skills to the analysis of the fMRI data from my current R01, other neuroimaging data available at my institute, and future research efforts; and (3) To continue professional development in areas critical to academic success, such as, mentorship of junior scientists and multidisciplinary collaborations. These goals represent a logical and synergistic expansion of my current expertise. The training provided will enhance the value of currently funded projects as well as those that are under review. Although my existing skill set will allow me to accomplish the Specific Aims of my current R01, I need additional training to fully utilize the neuroimaging data and to ask novel and meaningful questions that are on the cutting edge of drug abuse research. The K02 award will allow me to benefit from formal coursework and workshops, directed readings, individual tutoring and consultation with leaders in the field, hands-on training in brai imaging data acquisition, MRI methodology (e.g., functional and structural MRI, BOLD signal activation), image analysis methodology, and supervised practical experience analyzing relevant datasets. In summary, the overarching goal of the proposed K02 is to further my multidisciplinary independent program of research aimed at the development of evidence-based interventions for SUD and co-occurring PTSD. This award will provide me with the protected time necessary to fully engage in the training activities outlined in the career development plan, enabling me to take full advantage of expertise on the MUSC campus to enhance my skill set and knowledge base in order to move my research program forward in ways not currently possible without additional training.

Public Health Relevance

Substance use disorders (SUD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are debilitating and chronic disorders that frequently co-occur and affect a substantial proportion of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND) Veterans and their families. The current services offered do not adequately address co-occurring SUD and PTSD, and there is an immediate need for the development of theory-grounded, evidence-based treatments. The proposed study has the potential to significantly improve the standard of patient care, advance the comorbidity science in this area, decrease public health expenditures, and improve the military readiness and overall health of our U.S. military families.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Research Scientist Development Award - Research (K02)
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Study Section
Adult Psychopathology and Disorders of Aging Study Section (APDA)
Program Officer
Lin, Yu
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Medical University of South Carolina
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Flanagan, Julianne C; Fischer, Melanie S; Badour, Christal L et al. (2017) The Role of Relationship Adjustment in an Integrated Individual Treatment for PTSD and Substance Use Disorders Among Veterans: An Exploratory Study. J Dual Diagn 13:213-218

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