Despite many years of discussion, research, and efforts to promote change, a great disparity remains between the presence of African American, Hispanic, Native American, People with Disabilities, and other underrepresented minority (URM) faculty at US research universities and their representation in the US population. This reality is no less true in the neurosciences than in other disciplines. Moreover, URMs who do achieve faculty status appear to achieve traditional measures of success at a lower rate than do their majority counterparts. Although data on publications and funding rates appear to be lacking, there is a striking absence of URMs in visible positions of prominence as full professors or chairs at universities and as symposia speakers, journal editors, or societal officers. We believe that these two problems are related ? that if those URMs who are faculty become more successful in regard to those measures, this in turn will stimulate an influx of other URMs into faculty ranks. Our evaluation of available programs in the US indicates that there are limited opportunities to adequately assist early career URM faculty in overcoming these difficulties, and it is this problem that we seek to address through the Center for Underrepresented Research in Addiction (CURA) to promote the advancement of junior faculty members in drug addiction research at research universities. Defining success for such faculty in terms of quality and quantity of manuscripts, grants submitted, and funded, visibility at the national level, mentoring of others by the participants, and promotion, we propose to establish a program based on the following hypothesis: The success of early career URM faculty in drug addiction research can be increased substantially by an intensive individualized educational program focused on (1) and individualized career development plan and the identification of a team of relevant mentors (2) strong instruction in professional skills and the responsible conduct of research (RCR), (3) individualized and frequent mentoring by senior established faculty (4) development of an expanded network and peer-mentoring, and (5) the promotion and enhancement of the career of URM faculty at their own institutions. To test this hypothesis, we will develop the CURA program to advance the career of URM faculty. We will recruit 10 early career URM faculty in drug addiction research each year for five years who have great promise for success. We will then develop career development programs for each participant and together the participant and mentoring team will develop a career development plan. To facilitate that plan we will establish a one-year educational program consisting of (a) workshops, (b) strong mentoring, (c) attendance at professional scientific meetings, (d) assistance in the expansion of their network, and (e) mechanisms to promote communication and peer-mentoring among the participants. The impact of our efforts will be evaluated and the results disseminated at meetings and in publications. We believe that this approach will have a significant impact on the success of early career URM faculty in the neurosciences and will serve as a model for programs in other areas of academia.
Lay Abstract The number of African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, and Pacific Islanders who do drug addiction research is much lower than would be expected based on their representation in the U.S. population. We will establish a national Center for Underrepresented Research in Addiction (CURA) program that will promote the advancement of these underrepresented minorities who are junior faculty members in academia. The program will involve a series of workshops and mentoring over several years with instruction and mentoring in drug addiction research, professional development, and ethics provided by a large number of nationally recognized faculty members.