Substance Use Disorders 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 scientists in substance use disorder treatment and services research. As substance use disorders science develops, and more is learned about the behavioral, social, and genetic basis of this persistent disorder and the association with problems such as HIV and health disparities, investigators need postdoctoral training to master the skills and concepts essential to producing 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 substance use disorders treatment by addressing the needs for both effective and efficient interventions for the many people affected by substance use disorders.

This UCSF postdoctoral training program, entering its 24th year, develops substance use disorders (SUD) treatment and services researchers. The training focuses on four areas: a) clinical trials of behavioral, pharmacological and psychosocial interventions, in both practice-based and community settings; b) services research, including organizational change, in health care systems; c) psychosocial and biological factors that interact with treatments, including genetics and neuroimaging; and d) treatment and services research in complex, comorbid populations. Trainees are admitted for two years with possibility of a third year. The exceptional trainee may enter for a one-year training program. To date the program has successfully trained 60 doctoral level psychologists, physicians, public health, and policy professionals for academic and research careers. The program's graduates have embarked on fruitful careers to improve SUD treatment through scientific study. In the most recent funding cycle the program focused on linking with mental health disciplines, conducted rigorous program evaluation, extended its emphasis on technology, and enhanced its strength in HIV health care and prevention. During the next five years we focus on technology; evolving opportunities through health care reform; health care for underserved populations such as youth and sexual and racial/ethnic minorities; and SUD and HIV prevention and care. The program is based in an environment with outstanding and highly relevant resources, including linkages with diverse clinical sites and a variety of academic centers and activities that supplement the training experience. The program is led by the Director and 4 Site Directors, an Executive Committee of Investigators, and has guidance from a Scientific and Training Advisory Committee. Core faculty members have backgrounds including psychology, psychiatry, biostatistics, nursing, public health, and epidemiology. These faculty have strong histories of mentorship, extensive experience in obtaining extramural funding, and ongoing research productivity in SUD treatment and services research. New faculty members have joined the program, bringing important lines of inquiry, research settings, and methods. The result is a scientifically productive 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 and clinically relevant SUD treatment and services research, contributing to the knowledge base in the field.