For ten years the Prevention and Methodology Training Program (PAMT) has met a critical need in the nation's training of prevention scientists and in the NIDA portfolio by fostering careers focusing on the integration of drug abuse prevention science and highly innovative methodology. The objective of PAMT is to produce two types of well-trained scientists. One is drug abuse/HIV prevention scientists who apply the most appropriate methods in their research, are enthusiastic about and comfortable with adopting advanced methods, and engage in career-long learning as new methods emerge. The other is methodologists who improve and disseminate innovative methods for use in drug abuse/HIV prevention research, and who understand and are committed to prevention so that their methodological work truly enhances this field. We achieve this objective by capitalizing on the close collaboration between two well-established and vibrant research centers at Penn State: the Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center and the Methodology Center. The training program we have established prepares young scientists to address critical research questions in drug abuse prevention that most graduate students and new Ph.D.s would be unprepared to tackle. Examples of prevention topics in PAMT include cost-benefit analysis; research across the translation continuum, including implementation fidelity; understanding heterogeneity in response to prevention interventions; tailoring and adapting intervention content to individuals at particular times; the interplay between services research and efficacy issues; the role of positive youth development strategies in prevention; innovative delivery of prevention content via mobile devices; and the role of genetic and neurological variables in both risk behaviors and resiliency against risk factors. Examples of methodological topics in PAMT include sophisticated modeling techniques for the kinds of big data that are growing in importance in prevention, such as intensive longitudinal data, genetic data, and neurological data; statistical models for understanding meditational processes that underlie prevention programs; person-centered analytic methods (e.g., latent class and latent transition analysis); methods for studying effects of risk factors and behavioral interventions as a continuous function of age and/or time; and innovative approaches for building more efficacious and effective behavioral interventions. All PAMT trainees learn how to translate their knowledge and skills to develop and refine strategies to reduce the incidence of drug abuse and HIV. Additionally, fellows receive instruction and mentoring in writing journal articles and grant proposals and in the responsible conduct of research. To summarize, PAMT trainees are engaged in cutting- edge work that integrates two fields-prevention science and methodology-into a seamless, detailed, holistic approach to understanding and preventing drug abuse and HIV. The scientists we train will be at the forefront of this critical area for many years to come. With the present proposal we seek funding to continue and expand this important effort.
Drug abuse and HIV are serious public health problems. Preventing them from occurring will improve the nation's health, yet successful prevention has proven to be very complex. The proposed training program will produce a new generation of behavioral scientists poised to lead research that integrates drug abuse/HIV prevention and cutting-edge quantitative methods. These scientists will be well-prepared to conduct high- quality, highly innovative research that has the potential to make important progress in drug abuse/HIV prevention.
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