Neuroscience Training in Drug Abuse Research1

Official Title:

"Neuroscience Training in Drug Abuse Research"

Training Grant Director:

Paul Mermelstein, Ph.D
Professor

Department of Neuroscience
6-145 Jackson Hall
321 Church St., S.E.
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Overview:
For the last 30 years, this institutional training program located at the University of Minnesota has focused on the preparation of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows for research and study in the field of drug addiction. The faculty mentors are all members of the University interdepartmental Graduate Program of Neuroscience. The 13 current trainers span four departments within the Academic Health Center. Our trainers’ research programs are strongly supported by extramural funds. Each shares the common interest in understanding the changes that occur to the nervous system following exposure to drugs of abuse.

Objective:
The proposed program is to support 6 predoctoral trainees and 3 postdoctoral fellows: the same number of trainees supported by the current funding period. The vast majority of predoctoral trainees are students in the interdepartmental Graduate Program of Neuroscience. This program has been ranked as one of the top three graduate programs within the entire University. Exceptional graduate students in departmental graduate programs (e.g. Pharmacology) that minor in Neuroscience are also eligible. Graduate students become eligible for support at the end of their first year, once they select a faculty mentor who is part of the training program. For postdoctoral fellows, a strong publication history and previous training in addiction research are the most important criteria for selection to the training grant. Of the eligible postdoctoral fellows working in the laboratories of our trainers, only the top third are selected.

Rationale and Design:
The motivation for this training program is for all trainees to experience the breadth of topics, scientific approaches, and methodologies taken to study drug addiction. Additionally, research programs across investigators are highly collaborative. This enrichment is intended to maximize the trainees’ potentials for rewarding careers in scientific thought and research. Active classroom activities and journal clubs, along with a seminar series and a program retreat reinforce the cohesive community. Additionally, the University’s committed support to the neurosciences (over 100 million dollars in just the last five years) is unequalled at the institution. While breadth is important, each trainee has his/her own individual development plan. Trainees work with both their mentor as well as additional trainers to further their specific career goals. This is true for postdoctoral fellows as well, where both the PI as well as additional trainers monitor progress. Notably, the graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are not the only ones receiving preparation. Our trainers undergo additional instruction, to ensure they are better mentors beyond just laboratory advisors, which ensures an optimal environment for training.

Faculty Trainers:

PROFESSOR
DISCIPLINE
COLLEGE
E-MAIL
Alfonso Araque
Professor
Dept. of Neuroscience
Medical School
araque@umn.edu
Carolyn Fairbanks
Professor
Dept. of Pharmaceutics
College of Pharmacy
carfair@umn.edu
Anna Lee
Assistant Professor
Dept. of Pharmacology
Medical School
amlee@umn.edu
Robert Meisel
Professor
Dept. of Neuroscience
Medical School
meisel@umn.edu
Paul Mermelstein
Professor
Dept. of Neuroscience
Medical School
pmerm@umn.edu
A. David Redish
Professor
Dept. of Neuroscience
Medical School
redish@umn.edu
Patrick Rothwell
Assistant Professor
Dept. of Neuroscience
Medical School
rothwell@umn.edu
Don Simone
Professor and Head
Dept. of Oral Sciences
School of Dentistry
simon003@umn.edu
Stan Thayer
Professor
Dept. of Pharmacology
Medical School
sathayer@umn.edu
Mark Thomas
Associate Professor
Dept. of Neuroscience
Medical School
tmhomas@umn.edu
Lucy Vulchanova
Assistant Professor
Dept. of Neuroscience
Medical School
vulch001@umn.edu
Kevin Wickman
Professor
Dept. of Pharmacology
Medical School
wickm002@umn.edu
George Wilcox
Professor
Dept. of Neuroscience
Medical School
george@umn.edu