Alcohol Research Training: Methods and mechanisms (McCrady, PI)
The central aim of the proposed UNM Training Program, "Alcohol Research Training; Change Methods & Mechanisms," is to provide multidisciplinary pre- and post-doctoral training to prepare future scientists to conduct research to elucidate the processes of change in drinking behavior, develop and test effective methods to effect change through improved approaches to treatment and indicated prevention, and develop and test models of disseminate knowledge of effective interventions to diverse populations. Central questions that trainees will address include: (1) What factors stimulate change in at-risk and clinical populations? (2) What psychological, social, and biological mechanisms underlie successful change at the individual level? (3) How does modeling of different trajectories of change contribute to understanding change processes? (4) What types of interventions are more and less effective in creating long-term behavior change, and, equally important, what specific aspects of treatments account for their effectiveness? (5) How does the study of risk profiles (e.g. genetic, neurobiological, psychological, socio-environmental) contribute to understanding change processes and improving efforts to tailor interventions to groups with different risk profiles? (6) How do change processes and interventions vary based on individual differences (e.g. genetic profiles, socio-demographic characteristics, co-morbidity, social/cultural environment)? (7) What are effective and efficient approaches to disseminate knowledge about change? The proposed training program would support 4 pre-doctoral fellows, drawn from the Department of Psychology at the University of New Mexico. Four post-doctoral fellows, phased in over the first 3 years of the grant, will come from disciplines relevant to the goals of the training program, including psychology, sociology, communication, psychiatry, social work, and health economics. The program will be directed and run by the Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions (CASAA), a multidisciplinary center devoted to treatment, prevention, and epidemiological research on alcohol and other substance use disorders. The Mind Research Network (MRN), a private, non-profit neuroimaging center on the UNM campus, is an important contributing partner. CASAA investigators have a strong record of research on effective models for prevention and treatment to reduce alcohol-related harm, research on active ingredients of treatment and underlying mechanisms of change, and dissemination/diffusion research. The strong human neuroscience group at the MRN brings complementary research skills to the training program. RELEVANCE (See instructions): Heavy drinking and alcohol use disorders are major concerns for health and safety. Research has led to better prevention and treatment approaches, but outcomes are less than optimal. The proposed training grant draws upon multiple disciplines to prepare researchers to investigate the psychological, social, and biological mechanisms that underpin the process of change; apply this knowledge to developing and testing new models for prevention and treatment; and apply these models to underserved populations.