Research training in alcohol abuse has been ongoing at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) since 1987 when an Institutional Training grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) was awarded. A second training grant funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) was awarded in 1991. The Addiction Sciences Division (ASD), within the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, and the Department of Neuroscience offer these comprehensive, federally-funded basic and clinical science training programs in alcohol, and substance abuse research. These training grants from NIAAA and NIDA supply stipends and research funds for both predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows. The purpose of this training is to produce scientists capable of conducting independent basic and/or clinical alcohol and substance abuse research.
The training faculty hold appointments in the Department Neuroscience and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. They are a multidisciplinary faculty, within a medical school base, providing clinical, and basic science trainees with research experiences in various facets of substance abuse research. Upon entry into the program, trainees are integrated into their mentor’s research program. All faculty mentors have active, NIH-funded research so that trainees are exposed to state-of-the-art research techniques, and ideas. The program is unique in that it stresses the sharing of information between basic and clinical research teams. This process is achieved in part because the majority of clinical and basic faculty and fellows are housed in close proximity to one another, thus facilitating daily interactions of scientists.
As a measure of success, every trainee to-date has annually submitted an abstract, prepared either a poster or oral presentation, and presented at the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) meeting, the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD), or some other alcohol, and/or drug-related meeting. While working with their mentor, each trainee is expected to submit one manuscript a year for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Of the postdoctoral fellows trained, 75 percent now have academic positions at universities that allow them to utilize their training experience either through teaching or research.