The purpose of this application is to request a further five years of support for an Institutional National Research Service Award (years 26-30) which we have held for 25 years to support multidisciplinary, interdepartmental post-doctoral training focused on the neurobiology of substance abuse with a strong emphasis on neuroimaging, molecular and familial genetics, pharmacoepidemiology, behavior, neural circuits, and pharmacology. We request support for six postdoctoral fellows, as we have had for the past five years ? filling all slots consistently. The fellowship will usually last two years for PhDs and often three for MDs due to their lack of research training in pursuit of their medical degrees. Fellows with a wide variety of backgrounds will be recruited including: Psychology, Psychiatry, Genetics, Medicine, Anthropology, Sociology, Biology, Neuropharmacology and Neuroscience. The primary research training experience is the apprenticeship model ? conduct of supervised research under the tutelage of one or more preceptors who are well established researchers, and experienced mentors. The trainee's work is usually focused on a single but broad ranging research project developed jointly by the preceptor and trainee. Mentored research takes up approximately 70%-80% of the trainee's effort. The remainder of the training program is made up of lectures, seminars, reading courses, individual tutorials and, when appropriate, formal didactic course work available in our graduate and medical school. Tutorials in neurobiology and genetics are tailored for trainees with specific interests that may or may not fall into their major area of focus. To arrange these tutorials, the program coordinator and preceptor identify areas of specific interest and set up the tutorial for the trainees with one of our preceptors or tutors who best meets the training objective. The main research interests of the five Departments involved in this grant (Psychiatry [as the central, administrative department], Anesthesiology, Psychological & Brain Sciences, Neurology and Genetics) are broad yet all have a heavy focus on neurobiology in its broadest context and/or pain and pain management (i.e., anesthesiology). These Departments as a whole offer more than 30 hours of relevant seminars per week dealing with the subject matter of this grant and are open to any of our interested postdoctoral fellows, although to be sure we cannot envision any circumstances that would encourage attendance at all, or most, of these seminars. Some careful selection must be made to ensure that trainees focus on their main research and career objective, mentored research. None-the-less, it is reassuring to have that much ancillary training available to amplify or to broaden the perspectives of our trainees.

Public Health Relevance

Opioid abuse, once considered a fading problem in this country, has reached near epidemic proportions over the past fifteen years, beginning with prescription opioid analgesic abuse and now escalating to heroin. Furthermore, the co-incident use of other substances of abuse (i.e., nicotine, benzodiazepines and stimulants) has also risen dramatically. For this reason this is a very high priority for NIDA. However, given that this is a newly emerging problem, we lack young scientists who are capable of helping us understand the neurobiological substrates underlying this increasing public health threat. This training program aims to fill the gap in trained researchers in this field, and is tailored to mentor in research career development in substance abuse.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Institutional National Research Service Award (T32)
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Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZAA1)
Program Officer
Babecki, Beth
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Washington University
Schools of Medicine
Saint Louis
United States
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