The major theme of our Alcohol Research Center is treatment through research. By enhancing our basic knowledge of alcohol’s action on the brain and of individual risk factors for the development of alcohol abuse and dependence, better treatments can be developed. One important way to facilitate this translational approach to alcohol research is to encourage the development of new tools and ideas. Recent advances in molecular biology and genetics, neuroscience, psychology, psychiatry, and related fields offer great promise for better defining key mechanisms and pathways that underlie excessive drinking. In turn, these targets can be used to develop effective and personalized treatment strategies.
Under the leadership of Drs. John Woodward and Robert Malcolm, the major goal of the Pilot Project Component is to identify and recruit individuals to use these unique tools and skills in order to generate novel and interesting data of relevance to alcohol treatment. The specific aims of the Pilot Component are to:
- Provide a mechanism to recruit and mentor basic science and clinical investigators into the alcohol research field and to promote their ability to generate publications and independent grant funding.
- Increase efforts in promoting and developing translational research approaches in the alcohol research field by identifying critical areas where basic science and clinical practice overlap.
- Identify gaps in our knowledge regarding the effects of alcohol on the brain and behavior, and apply specific technologies and approaches to solving these problems.
Each year, researchers across the MUSC campus are invited to submit a 5-page proposal describing a research plan that specifically addresses novel alcohol treatments or has implications for treatment. A system is in place to review and select pilot projects for funding. Projects supported by this Component are rigorously monitored for progress, and mentoring is offered to junior investigators and to those new to the alcohol field.
Actively seeking out pilot projects from MUSC researchers across the diverse set of disciplines within the university, not only expands our research capabilities, but provides training and support to investigators who seek to join us in solving the problems associated with alcoholism and excessive drinking.