Skip to Main Content

Clinician Scientist Training Program


The Clinician Scientist Training Program (CSTP) has been providing intensive training in research methods in clinical and preclinical investigations on drug abuse continuously since 1991 and has graduated 34 scholars who have gone on to successful careers as independent investigators with many of them remaining at Yale (including the current Co-Director Marc Potenza, MD, PhD).

The early career investigators typically spend 3-5 years at Yale's Division of Addictions obtaining clinical and research training. Fifty-three Mentors drawn from this division and collaborating programs participate in this training program. The central theme of this program is the development and evaluation of innovative pharmacologic and behavioral treatments and intervention strategies for individuals with drug addictions that reflects a translational approach, integrating emerging findings from neuroscience.

Goals and Objectives of the Program

The overall goal of the Clinician Scientist Training Program at Yale is to provide research training, mentorship and research support for individuals who

  • Are at the early stages of faculty level research work
  • Are more experienced investigators wishing to make a change in research direction in order to concentrate on drug abuse research.

Candidates who enter the program will have clinical doctorate degrees, be beyond the beginning stages of postdoctoral fellowship training, but not yet at a level where the individual has developed sufficient research experience to have received a major externally funded grant (e.g. R01 level). Unless making a major career change, candidates cannot have greater than six years of research training beyond their last doctoral degree. The research methods and content areas of CSTP Scholars at Yale can range from basic research areas, using human and animal models (e.g. molecular neurobiology, genetics, behavioral psychopharmacology) to numerous applied areas (e.g. clinical trials, behavioral pharmacology, health services).

Seminars and Training

There are five required core seminars:

  1. The Clinician Scientist Core Seminar
  2. Seminar in Addiction Psychiatry
  3. Seminar on Research Methods/Biostatistics
  4. The Responsible Conduct of Scientific Research
  5. Seminars on Grant Writing - Introduction on How to Conceptualize and Write a Grant, and the Ethical Issues in Biomedical Research Seminar
These seminars emphasize interdisciplinary sharing of research methods and common elements of research such as grant-writing skills, protection of subjects, ethical conduct of research, rigor and reproducibility and biostatistics. To meet individual training needs, a key requirement for each Scholar is a detailed, competency-based training plan concentrating on selective areas of knowledge and experience required to develop a career as an independent scientist in the Scholar's chosen area. Additional training is tailored to each Scholar’s area of career development.


The centerpiece of this program is the opportunity to design and conduct a strongly mentored but independent research project (or series of projects). Within each project, there is a requirement of an interdisciplinary component relevant to the specific topic, and each Scholar is required to work with at least two Mentors, with at least one primary Mentor, from different research disciplines and with a biostatistics consultant. After initial work conducted with the support of this program, they are guided to develop scientifically meritorious research proposals (using, for example, R03, R21 or R01 mechanisms) that will provide support for research that extends beyond the period of this program.


The main purpose of the CSTP is to provide faculty level trainees with opportunities to devote virtually full-time effort during the initial phase of their careers to developing the skills and experience needed to become independent investigators in drug abuse research. Because of expected diversity in Scholars’ research interests and prior experience, one of the program’s most important features is an individualized mentored research experience supplemented by core seminars and a tailored program of formal courses selected to fill specific training needs. Scholars select two Mentors from different disciplines with expertise in research on drug abuse and addiction treatment, clinical and preclinical neurobiology, laboratory medicine, internal medicine, child psychiatry, developmental psychology, social psychology, neuroimaging, molecular genetics, health services, health economics and HIV treatment.

Scholars work closely with faculty mentors to gain experience in all aspects of a faculty Mentor’s research, from initial project conceptualization and design, through study implementation, data analysis and manuscript preparation.

Program Aims

  1. To provide Clinician Scientists with the knowledge and understanding of research methods, biostatistics, the responsible conduct of scientific research, and the key issues in drug addiction research that will result in their becoming independent investigators generating new data of practical value in drug addiction treatment.
  2. To provide Clinician Scientists with direct experience in all aspects of the research process from initial project conceptualization and design, through implementation, data analysis and manuscript preparation, as well as oral presentation of results.
  3. To provide an individually designed mentored opportunity for Clinician Scientists to develop, implement and complete all phases of an independent research project focusing on drug use and addiction.