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Sunday, October 1, 2023


Funds introduce drug research options

The UH Center for Drug and Social Policy Research was granted $1.5 million by the National Institute on Drug Abuse to create a program that will develop new researchers.’

Not exactly a research grant, the funds will create a program called the Interdisciplinary Research’ Training Institute on Hispanic Drug Abuse. The institute will be used as a training mechanism with a focus on Hispanics.’

‘The (program) consists of three major components which (are) training, mentoring and networking,’ assistant professor Alice Cepeda said.’

Researchers from around the country, including social scientists, psychologists and neurobiologists, will be brought to UH.’

‘We hope to get the brightest and best minds,’ Avelardo Valdez, director of the CDSPR, said.’

These individuals are specifically interested in conducting Latino-based research, and will provide training workshops for the young scholars coming in.’

‘At the beginning of the two-week (program at the) institute, there will be an introduction to Hispanic issues and Hispanic substance abuse; it’s very interdisciplinary,’ behavioral science researcher Evelio Escamilla said. ‘

‘We will have people here that will talk about the gene research dealing with substance abuse, how your brain reacts to drug abuse, behavioral aspects of psychology and on how to deliver treatments.’

Fellows-in-training will begin two-year commitments to foster their relationships with senior faculty members in their areas of expertise.’

‘We are going to provide them travel money to go visit their mentor at their home institution if they have to,’ Cepeda said.

Valdez, Cepeda and other CDSPR faculty members have networks around the country of individuals or researchers with whom they are engaged in projects. The networks will be available for incoming fellows if a mentor is unable to help them.’

The program will likely commence the second week of June in 2010 at the Hilton University of Houston Hotel.’

One of the biggest concerns in the nation is health care, and drug abuse is often an overlooked part of the issue.’

‘It’s a population that generally goes unnoticed,’ Cepeda said. ‘Health right now is a priority. We are in a social climate right now in the U.S. where there is a lot of discussion in regards to our health system. Obviously substance users are one of the clientele (bases).’

Many of the faculty members agreed that it is important to have that dialogue take place on campus, and mainly because of Houston’s significance to the nation. ‘

‘ ‘Houston is the fourth largest city in the U.S., and drug users are a sub-population in many of our urban rural cities around the country that are engaging in behaviors that put them at risk,’ Cepeda said.’

Houston has a substantial Hispanic population, which is another reason it is important to specifically research this group, Valdez said.

‘We know about (drug abuse’s) relationship to crime, but the public knows less about its association with health issues, and that’s really our focus,’ Valdez said.’

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