In recent years the number of physicians engaged in research careers has declined significantly. In response to the critical shortage of physician-scientists, and with support from NIDA, investigators in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) launched the Drug Abuse Research Training (DART; R25 DA020537) program in 2006 to create an innovative research training program. The primary aim of the DART research education program was to incorporate a two-year research track within a four-year psychiatry residency program for physicians committed to pursuing clinical research careers in substance use disorders (SUD). A secondary aim, proposed in the 2011 DART renewal, was to develop the pipeline of trainees by extending recruitment into earlier phases of medical training by offering a 10-week summer research training program. Thus far, 28 residents and 104 summer research fellows have participated in the DART program and generated 124 manuscripts and 145 research presentations. DART trainees represent a diverse group of individuals who have received numerous local and national awards for their research and academic excellence. This proposal requests continued support for the DART research training programs at MUSC. During the proposed renewal period, we will further build on prior successes by continuing to cultivate the pipeline of trainees and mentors, and expanding our state-of-the-art clinical and translational SUD-focused research training program.
The specific aims of the proposed renewal are: (1) Continue to attract and train psychiatry residents committed to pursuing SUD-focused research careers, (2) Continue to partner with the MUSC Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) programs so that DART trainees benefit from the educational resources, and addiction research gains increased visibility across the MUSC campus, (3) Attract and engage new program faculty, (4) Ensure continued diversity of trainees, (5) Provide more intensive training in research literacy to all psychiatry residents, (6) Leverage the newly established MUSC Addiction Research Training Council to enhance career development and networking opportunities, and (7) Promote the sustainability of the DART program by fostering the pipeline of outstanding emerging mentors and junior faculty conducting SUD research at MUSC. Over the past decade, the DART program has grown substantially and provided clinical and translational research training for physicians, medical students, undergraduates and other biomedical workforce trainees through innovative educational activities and mentored research experiences. DART trainees demonstrate high levels of scholarly productivity and a significant proportion remain engaged in research following the program. The DART program aligns with the priorities of NIDA and the need for well-trained clinical researchers to reduce the societal burden of SUD. The multidisciplinary leadership team, strong partnerships with campus-wide initiatives and a cadre of federally-funded SUD faculty mentors at MUSC ensures a rich and vibrant training environment.
The participation of clinician-scientists in the biomedical research enterprise helps bridge the gap between basic science and clinical practice to address the healthcare needs of the public. In recent years the number of physicians engaged in research careers has declined significantly, as have the number of research psychiatrists and research fellowships for psychiatrists. Interdisciplinary training focused on substance use disorders (SUD) during residency and earlier phases of career development will help ensure the availability of highly trained clinician-scientists needed to reduce the burden of SUD and related conditions in our society.
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