The goal of this training program is to prepare predoctoral students and postdoctoral fellows with knowledge and skills to carry out cutting-edge alcohol research. For the past 24 years, the Alcohol Research Training Program at MUSC has created an environment where basic scientists and clinicians work together to train the next generation of alcohol researchers. The objectives of this training program are to: 1) integrate trainees into funded alcohol research programs with appropriate mentors, 2) provide general knowledge about alcohol abuse, alcoholism and alcohol treatment-related research, 3) provide trainees with exposure to appropriate role models, 4) provide training in issues related to scientific ethics, 5) enhance trainees'oral and written communication skills, 6) teach trainees the appropriate use of statistical tools for data analysis, 7) teach trainees how to prepare research grant applications and to transition them to individual training fellowships, 8) give each trainee an appreciation of both clinical and basic science approaches to alcohol research, and 9) assist trainees in finding appropriate outplacement. Over the past decade, there has been outstanding growth and success of faculty devoted to alcohol research that has contributed to MUSC's stature as a center for alcohol and substance-abuse research. This has generated a high demand for predoctoral and postdoctoral training in alcohol research. Thus, this application requests funds to continue this valuable program. Support is requested for four post-doctoral trainees and four pre-doctoral trainees. Seven major research areas are available for training: 1) elucidating the neural targets of alcohol action, 2) uncovering the neurobiological basis of excessive drinking, 3) analyzing brain imaging of human alcoholics, 4) determining the cognitive aspects of alcohol use and abuse, 5) evaluating novel pharmacotherapies for treating alcoholism and alcohol abuse, 6) analyzing how genetic polymorphisms contribute to alcohol abuse and treatment efficacy, and 7) studying the interactions of stress and interpersonal trauma in alcohol-use trajectories. Training will take place within a tightly integrated and physically connected environment where educational and research opportunities are closely coordinated. The comprehensive training program incorporates didactic material, clinical experiences and research opportunities. Recruitment and selection of trainees is accomplished by the Program Directors and Steering Committee members and by partnering with the College of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs Office of MUSC who provide assistance in recruitment of under-represented individuals. Mentors are faculty with actively funded alcohol research projects and matching of trainees with mentors is by mutual consent. The NIAAA training program has been successful in placing trainees in highly-productive postdoctoral and faculty-level positions through which they continue to contribute to alcohol research.
Alcohol abuse and alcoholism remain a major public health concern both in terms of its impact on personal and family relationships and its tremendous economic costs due to lost productivity and health-related impairments. Improving the effectiveness of treatment of alcohol abuse and alcoholism is based on improving our understanding of the neurobiological basis of addiction and the currently available intervention approaches. The proposed project will equip both clinical and basic science researchers with the knowledge base and research skills to investigate the neurobiology of addiction and develop improved therapeutic strategies to treat alcohol abuse and alcoholism.
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