Drug Abuse Treatment/Services Research Training Program

Investigator: James L. Sorensen, PhD
Sponsor: NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse

Location(s): United States


This training program at the University of California, San Francisco mentors the next generation of postdoctoral fellows in drug abuse treatment and services research. As addiction science develops, and more is learned about the behavioral, social, and genetic basis of addiction and the association with problems such as HIV and health disparities, investigators need postdoctoral training to master the skills and concepts essential to successful research. Consistent with our current training program we request support for 5 postdoctoral trainees at any given time, with the overarching goal of improving drug abuse treatment by addressing the needs for both effective and efficient interventions for the many people affected by drug abuse.

This UCSF postdoctoral training program, entering its 20th year, develops drug abuse treatment and services researchers. The training focuses on four areas: 1) clinical trials of behavioral, psychosocial, and pharmacological interventions, including pilot work that leads to clinical trials; 2) studies of processes that contribute to outcome; 3) efficacy and effectiveness of interventions in real-world settings, and 4) intervention dissemination and diffusion. Trainees are admitted for two years with possibility of a third year. The exceptional trainee may enter for a one-year training program. In the past 19 years the program has successfully trained over 50 doctoral level psychologists, psychiatrists, public health, and policy scientists for academic and research careers. The program's young, trans-disciplinary researchers have embarked on fruitful careers to improve drug abuse treatment through scientific study. In the most recent funding cycle the program had a new director and focused on integration of substance abuse with medical care research in AIDS and other diseases, continuing care for complex patient populations, development of digital-Health intervention platforms, and understanding how health disparities can be ameliorated. During the next five years we appoint a new associate director, focus on linking with nursing in addition to mental health disciplines, conduct rigorous program evaluation, further our emphasis on technology, focus on study of health care reform, and build on our emphasis on HIV care and prevention. The program exists in an environment with relevant resources, including linkages with multiple and diverse clinical sites and a variety of academic centers and activities that supplement the training experience. A six-member Executive Committee of Co-Principal Investigators directs the program, with guidance two groups, a Physician Advisory Committee and a Scientific and Training Advisory Committee. The transdisciplinary core faculty members have backgrounds including psychology, psychiatry, biostatistics, nursing, public health, and epidemiology. Core faculty have strong histories of mentorship, extensive experience in obtaining extramural funding, and ongoing research productivity in drug abuse (including nicotine) treatment and services research. New faculty members have joined the program, bringing important lines of inquiry, research settings, and methods. The result is a resonant environment that allows trainees to draw on multiple perspectives in designing and completing treatment and services research. The expectation is that program graduates will conduct independent methodologically rigorous drug abuse treatment and services research and contribute to the knowledge base in the field. Recent changes in policy and public perception of drug abuse increase the need for outstanding researchers in treatment and services research.