Training Grants: The Neuroimaging Sciences Training Program in Substance Abuse

Curriculum

The program is designed to last 2-3 years, and the purposes of the program are the following:

  1. Provide formal course training to postdoctoral fellows, with an emphasis on imaging and clinical research methodology of substance abuse research, and instruction in their underlying multidisciplinary sciences.
  2. Provide mentored training for fellows to apply these new methods to the interdisciplinary advance of our understanding of the function of the brain in  substance use disorders.
  3. Provide an integrated research experience for fellows in both imaging and methodology of substance abuse research. All fellows will be expected to complete at least one research project with an applications and one with a methodology mentor during their training period.

Each fellow will work on two projects: one focused on methodology and one focused on an application in substance use. There will be two mentors, one for each of the projects, and it is the fellow's choice which will be the primary mentor and associated area of work.

To ensure a solid background in neuroimaging and substance use disorders areas, there is a recommended core curriculum, with courses defined according to the choice of methodological or applications emphasis. For the methodological track those include methodology of PET, MRI, and MRS, including image processing; other courses are available, including statistics for clinical studies and pharmacokinetic modeling (which is one of the required courses for the applications track).

Courses

Seminars

Practicum

A number of laboratories at Yale apply neuroimaging to study addictive processes, such as drug withdrawal, tolerance, drug craving, self-control, impulsivity, cognitive regulation of addiction behaviors and relapse risk. Human neuroimaging is used to evaluate the brain’s response to these processes and determine whether brain measures provide sensitive markers for these addictive processes. Trainees have an opportunity to join one of these labs and train in the application of neuroimaging and the neurobiology of addiction in the setting of clinical phenomenology of addictive behaviors.

Trainees will have the opportunity to learn about out-of-scanner methods to assess these processes and outcomes and link those to neuroimaging measures. Such opportunities allow direct involvement in clinical neuroscience research. Mentoring will be individualized based on the training, background and interest of the candidate. In this fashion, trainees develop an appreciation of practical aspects of the research methods used in the substance use research, including the application of sophisticated neuroscience methodologies, as well as an understanding of the motivations and resistances which determine the willingness of clinical populations to participate in research, the obligations of the investigators to inform and educate subjects throughout the process, and the obstacles to be overcome regarding gaining the cooperation of clinical staff in research endeavors.

Second Year Grant Proposal

In the second year of the program, trainees write a grant proposal to be critiqued by the steering committee as if being reviewed by NIH. The purpose of this step is two-fold. First, there is the opportunity to gain experience in competitive grant writing with the advantage of a thorough critique by a home crowd. Second, the resulting product will ideally be a grant proposal that can be submitted for competitive funding and help the trainee obtain a faculty position at Yale or elsewhere for the next career stage.