Summer Intern Positions

We are proud to announce the Medical Student Summer Internships in Addiction Research, sponsored by our NIH “Translational Training in Addiction” T32 Award.  The objectives of these internships are to introduce medical students to translational drug abuse research through an in-depth, “hands on” training experience in a specific area of basic or clinical research, lectures, seminars, and completion of a project under the direction of a mentor.  For more information or application details, contact information is included below.

Click here for an application for a summer internship.

Brain Imaging Research Center

Preceptor(s): Clint Kilts Ph.D., Andy James, Ph.D., Keith Bush, Ph.D.

A summer intern would engage in patient-oriented research and functional brain imaging exploring the human brain mechanisms of the development of drug addiction.

Women’s Mental Health Program

Preceptor(s): Shona Ray, M.D., and Jessica Coker, M.D.

Summer interns will be exposed to a wide variety of neuropsychiatric conditions in pregnant and postpartum women and spend time in the clinic setting observing evaluations and treatment plan development.  Active participation in clinical research projects focusing on exposures during pregnancy, pharmacological treatments, and behavioral interventions in women with co-morbid substance use disorders will be part of the intern experience.

Health Services Research

Preceptor(s): Teresa Hudson, Pharm.D., Ph.D., and Michael Cucciare, Ph.D.

The student will be exposed to a wide variety of health services research activities. The student will work closely with addiction health services researchers to become familiar with the literature discussing interventions for reducing substance (alcohol, opioids, and stimulants) misuse in rural populations. They will collaborate on manuscripts, grant writing, and grants funded through the Department of Veterans Affairs, Health Services Research and Development Service and National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Students will be expected to present preliminary findings of a project at the bi monthly Division of Health Services Research (DHSR) research conference and have at least one manuscript outlined by the end of the 10-week period (past students have served as a coauthor on several published manuscripts during their internship).

Behavioral pharmacology of emerging drugs of abuse

Preceptor: William Fantegrossi, Ph.D.

A summer intern will work with several categories of illicit drugs, including synthetic cannabinoids (constituents of K2/”Spice” smoking blends), analogues of cathinone (present in “bath salts” preparations), and novel opioids (related to morphine.) In an effort to better understand the biological actions of these emerging drugs of abuse, the research uses a battery of behavioral and physiological tests in mice against which to compare these compounds with more well-known drugs of abuse (the phytocannabinoid delta9-THC, psychostimulants like MDMA and methamphetamine, and opioids like morphine and fentanyl). Students will have the opportunity to assist with surgeries (intraperitoneal implantation of biotelemetry probes which simultaneously measure core temperature and locomotor activity), work with mice in behavioral assays (including operant tests of food-maintained responding, and assays of drug-elicited effects such as analgesia and catalepsy), and assist with dissections for studies involving tissue distribution and disposition of drug. This is a large project integrating the basic sciences of chemistry, pharmacology, and biology, as well as the clinical application of these scientific discoveries. Students will thus be able to choose among specific experiments that can be matched to their background and interest.  Students with biology, chemistry, or psychology backgrounds are particularly encouraged to apply.

Maternal-fetal pharmacology of buprenorphine and norbuprenorphine

Preceptor: Lisa Brents, Ph.D.

Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) often occurs shortly after birth to children who were chronically exposed to opioids in utero. NAS can cause severe irritability, hypersensitivity to stimuli, poor feeding, and poor autonomic regulation in affected newborns. The mechanisms that determine NAS severity are not well understood. The intern will gain hands-on experience conducting experimental procedures with rodent models of drug abuse and grading rat neonatal withdrawal signs captured on film. The intern will also have the opportunity to learn and conduct analytical procedures to measure the concentration of a radiolabeled probe in rat brain tissues to confirm P-glycoprotein inhibition. In addition to the research experience gained through the project, the student will benefit from the rich training environment offered by the behavioral pharmacology group in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, and will have the opportunity to learn extensively from students, post-doctoral fellows, and investigators within the group.

Center for the Study of Tobacco

Preceptor: Pebbles Fagan, Ph.D.

Student interns will have the opportunity to learn more about the field of tobacco regulatory science, participate in research that monitors electronic cigarette advertising and promotion in social media, and work with an integrated team of scientists at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ Center for the Study of Tobacco and at Virginia Commonwealth University on research projects. Skills enhancement will include participating in trainings, learning how to set up databases and record data, and monitoring YouTube, retail store, and electronic cigarette forum discussions related to flavored electronic cigarette products. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in writing reports,  co-authoring abstracts and/or papers for submission to conferences or scientific journals.

Arkansas Center for Health Disparities

Preceptor: Nickolas Zaller, Ph.D.

Health disparities research is a multi-disciplinary field of study devoted to gaining greater scientific knowledge about the influence of health determinants, understanding the role of different pathways leading to disparities, and determining how this knowledge is translated into interventions to reduce or eliminate health disparities. The Arkansas Center for Health Disparities is supported by the National Institutes of Health on Minority Health and Health Disparities, NIH. The intern would focus on disparities and substance use disorders.

For more information, contact William Fantegrossi at