By Sarah Geegan
The University of Kentucky Center for Drug Abuse Research Translation (CDART) has received a $7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), funding which will continue the center's long history of developing novel intervention strategies that target high-risk individuals.
CDART is connected to the Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Though they are separate entities, CDART and NIDA have the common mission of understanding the causes and prevention of substance use disorders. The primary goal of CDART, which the grant will augment, is to move basic research findings into the application of more effective preventive intervention strategies.
"We know that there are individual differences in impulsivity that lead to risky behaviors," Michael Bardo, director of CDART and professor in the UK Department of Psychology, said. "The current grant uses both preclinical (laboratory animal) and clinical (human experimental research) to understand the basic relation between individual differences in impulsivity and drug use. Both behavioral and brain neuroimaging techniques will be used. The relation between impulsivity and drug use will be investigated during the transition from adolescence to young adulthood, as this represents a period of development of increased vulnerability to drug use and abuse."
In particular, the researchers will attempt to determine if individuals who are experiencing negative emotional states are more prone to become impulsive and use drugs. They will also test intervention strategies, based on the principles of mindfulness training, to determine if reducing such negative mood states protects against drug abuse among those a highest risk.
"The grant is going into years 22-26 of funding, and thus it has a long history of working toward the development of novel intervention strategies for those at highest risk," Bardo said.
The grant will fund a multidisciplinary group of researchers, facilitating the team-oriented approach that the NIH seeks to promote. In addition to faculty, three postdoctoral scholars, eight graduate students and four undergraduate students are involved in the center.
The research team includes (from the UK College of Arts and Sciences) Ruth Baer, Department of Psychology; Michael Bardo, Department of Psychology; Richard Milich, Department of Psychology; Richard Kryscio, Department of Statistics; (from the UK College of Medicine) Thomas Kelly, Department of Behavioral Science; (from the UK College of Public Health) Richard Charnigo. Department of Biostatistics; and (from the UK College of Pharmacy) Linda Dwoskin. Donald Lynam from the Department of Psychology at Purdue University is also connected to CDART.