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Vanderbilt Addiction Center

Linking Clinical Phenotypes and Molecular Underpinnings of Addiction

 Abstract:  Training physicians to better understand and treat addictive disorders is vital to the mission of NIDA. In spite of significant recent advances in neuroscience, applications to practice have been limited by incomplete elucidation of clinical/biological correlates and a paucity of addiction psychiatrists with scientific training. We propose the Addiction Psychiatry Interdisciplinary Research Training (APIRT) Program, a consortium between the research intensive Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) and the historically African American Meharry Medical Center (MMC), to provide training for addiction psychiatrists embarking on combined clinical/research careers in an era of increasingly specialized clinical practice, neuroimaging approaches, and powerful genetic paradigms, all in the context of high throughput molecular technologies and unprecedented advances in information science. We seek support for two trainees per year, one each from MMC and VUMC Departments of Psychiatry, for a two year course of study beyond a coordinated academically enriched Adult and Addiction Psychiatry training track, leading to the Master of Science in Clinical Investigation (MSCI). For the MSCI, trainees must complete an interdisciplinary clinical research project, rigorous didactics, and an application for continued research support to NIDA. The APIRT program also offers unique laboratory exposure to trainees that foster an understanding of the scope (potential and limitations) of fundamental research, rather than the capacity to become basic researchers. Trainees will also receive individualized biostatistical and bioinformatics training, and interdisciplinary training sponsored by the participating units. The objective of the APIRT Program is to provide training to meaningfully investigate - in interdisciplinary teams, using high-performance computing research methodologies in real world settings - the linkages between clinical observations and biological data from emerging technologies in neuroimaging and genomics/proteomics for refining diagnosis and treatment of patients with addiction and co-occurring disorders. APIRT is enhanced by an interactive group of investigators with NIDA and other NIH support, well-established and readily available research core programs, and a strong commitment to the Meharry/Vanderbilt Alliance, with its emphasis on research, teaching, and clinical care to address health care disparities and developing academic leaders from under-represented minority populations.

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