University of Florida receives NIDA training grant in addiction research

The University of Florida has received a T32 award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to prepare pre and postdoctoral fellows for careers in research on drug use, addiction, and consequences of addiction from a population science and public health perspective.

The T32 Substance Abuse Training Center in Public Health addresses increased drug use in Florida, especially of opioids and cocaine, as well as a significant shortage of public health scientists in the drug abuse field. The program focuses on the epidemiology and prevention of substance use and its consequences and co-morbidities, with a focus on social determinants of health and health inequalities, and the development of behavioral interventions to reduce substance use and its harmful consequences. The program is directed by Dr. Linda B. Cottler, a professor in the department of epidemiology in the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions and the College of Medicine, and co-directed by Dr. Sara Jo Nixon, a professor of psychiatry at the UF College of Medicine.

The new grant is a five-year renewal of a training grant UF received in 2014. Through the initial training grant, 19 UF faculty members across six colleges mentored nine predoctoral and five postdoctoral fellows. Under the grant renewal, UF will train five Ph.D. students and three postdocs per year.

“While this T32 has made excellent progress since 2014, there are additional goals to achieve,” said Dr. Cottler, PHHP’s associate dean for research. “Now, more than ever, public health researchers, especially epidemiologists, need to work together with scientists from other disciplines to develop best practices for addiction research through all translational stages.”

The program is designed to provide trainees with an apprenticeship-style education to help them master skills necessary to critically evaluate data, conduct multiple aspects of addiction research and become successful investigators who contribute to the field. In addition, trainees are taught to understand, apply and maintain the highest ethical standards in their science and scholarship, and to be socially responsible investigators.

“We at UF are ready to train the next cohort and facilitate trainees’ contributions to the science of addiction medicine using all of the newest tools,” Dr. Cottler said.