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WFSM Institutional Alcohol Research Training Program

Dr. Brian McCool

Dr. Brian McCool

I am happy to announce both the renewal of the WFSM Institutional Alcohol Research Training Program (T32) and the funding of an additional administrative supplement to the T32.  Our Alcohol Research Training Program, now in its 21st year of funding by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, supports five pre-doctoral students and three post-doctoral trainees studying the biology of alcohol addiction.  The administrative supplement is part of the Collaborative Research on Addiction initiative at NIH (CRAN).  This CRAN supplement will fund two graduate students and one postdoc specifically focused on the co-abuse of alcohol with other drugs.  With these additions, our training program is now one of the largest in the nation.

The rationale for the Wake Forest Alcohol Training grant is to supply the next generation of scientific leaders in basic and translational alcohol research. Our research employs an array of multi-disciplinary approaches along with our historical experimental emphasis focused on animal models of alcohol self-administration. We continue to leverage these strengths in almost all of our research programs. As our training faculty expanded over the last ten years, we embraced both an overarching conceptual framework facilitating an appreciation for the risk factors and consequences of ethanol use/abuse and technical expertise that focuses on neurobiological mechanisms. The integration between ethanol self-administration and neurobiology remains a unique strength of our training program.

The Wake Forest training environment has also evolved, moving us increasingly towards an interdisciplinary, translational direction in drug addiction. For example, one fourth of the entire faculty in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology has directed extramural projects funded by both NIAAA and NIDA. And faculty funded from either NIDA or NIAAA routinely collaborate across these ‘disciplines’ – although most of these interactions to date have been focused on technical expertise rather than conceptual synergisms. Our faculty study mice, rats, non-human primates, as well as individual human subjects and human populations, frequently in the same laboratory or research sub-group. This integrated approach and our cross-disciplinary faculty are therefore already poised to offer a unique training experience with the potential to produce broadly-trained, independent scientists uniquely suited to succeed in collaborative addiction research.

Brian McCool, Ph.D.
Professor, Dept. Physiology & Pharmacology
Director, Alcohol Training Program
Wake Forest School of Medicine