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Translational Training in Addiction

Dr. Clint Kilts. Ph.D., is the primary investigator on the T32 grant.

Dr. Clint Kilts. Ph.D., is the primary investigator on the T32 grant.

Drug addiction is a serious problem, not just in Arkansas but throughout the entire United States. Approximately nine percent of Americans over the age of 12 admitted to some form of illicit drug use in 2012. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, illicit drug use costs the U.S. $193 billion each year in expenditures related to crime, lost work productivity and health care.

Solving this country’s drug addiction program will not be easy and will rely on informed researchers producing effective strategies designed to not only halt the ongoing wave of addiction but prevent it from increasing its grasp on the nation. This is the goal of the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s T32 training grant, the only one of its kind at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Initially funded in 2009, the “Translational Training In Addiction” program utilizes a cross-sectional approach to training the next generation of addiction research scientists.

The T32 addiction training program involves several UAMS collectives – the Psychiatric Research Institute (PRI) , the College of Pharmacy, the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, the Translational Research Institute (TRI) and the College of Public Health – as well as the National Center for Toxicological Research in Jefferson, Ark. Representatives from each group are serving as mentors for a group of researchers from varied backgrounds, the goal being to utilize a combined academic and non-academic workforce to assist young minds reach their potential. By design, the program represents an opportunity for young researchers to gain experience in hands-on substance abuse research, both formally in didactic, laboratory, and mentored environments so that they can in turn give back.

Dr. Clint Kilts, Ph.D., the director of PRI’s Brain Imaging Research Institute, is the primary investigator on the T32 grant, which was renewed for funding in June 2014. The $1.7 million grant was expanded to include four levels of trainees in the area of drug abuse across all areas of translational research from T0 (molecular target identification) to T4 (implementation science).

The objectives of the T32 training grant are:

  • To develop a shared knowledge of the scientific, clinical and societal roles and impact of drug use disorders;
  • To provide an individualized path of addiction research career development;
  • To provide learning environments emphasizing interdisciplinary, team science and translational research;
  • To provide grounding and training in research ethics and diversity;
  • To remove barriers to independence and post-training placement;
  • To monitor trainee and program progress and
  • To develop addiction physician-scientists.