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The Neurobiology of Drug Abuse

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NEUROBIOLOGY OF DRUG ABUSE TRAINING PROGRAM SUMMARY One of the keys to understanding the actions of drugs of abuse is a systematic study of the neurobiological basis of drug abuse. Such studies must involve multi-disciplinary approaches to examine the effects of drugs of abuse at several different levels of brain function. This is the goal of the current application, the Neurobiology of Drug Abuse Training Program, which proposes to continue a successful tradition of NIDA training at Wake Forest School of Medicine (WFSM). This program requests funding to train four predoctoral students in a multi-disciplinary program in the neurobiology of drug abuse. The program consists of 15 faculty members at WFSM, with research interests including molecular biology, receptor pharmacology, brain imaging techniques in humans and non-human primates, electrophysiology, and behavioral analysis of drug self- administration. The research of the faculty is supported by a significant number of federally-funded grants related to the field of substance abuse. A central focus of research for the training program is the NIDA-funded Center for the Neurobiology of Addiction Treatment, which offers highly integrated collaborative research projects among a number of faculty. The program is organized around three principal areas of research: Molecular/Cellular Neurobiology, Neurobiological Systems, and Behavioral Neurobiology. The training program offers a specific course in drug abuse related to each of these three areas. Predoctoral students have a choice of two different Ph.D. degree tracks: Integrated Physiology/Pharmacology and Neuroscience. Although these programs have their own individual requirements, specific drug abuse-related topics are integrated into the standard programs. The training program offers specific seminars and journal clubs for trainees. The program also contains specialized components dealing with grant writing, rigor and transparency in research, and ethics in scientific research. Recruitment of students will be aided by the fact that the field of neuroscience is one of the fastest growing disciplines in the biological sciences. In addition, recruitment of applicants from under- represented minorities will be a high priority, including a bridge program with North Carolina Central University. In summary, the Neurobiology of Drug Abuse Training Program not only offers students outstanding opportunities for education and research in the neurobiology of drug abuse, but is also a valuable resource for the field of drug abuse by providing trained young investigators capable of independent scientific careers.
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