The major theme of our Alcohol Research Center is treatment and treatment implications. By enhancing our knowledge of alcohol’s action on the brain, we can develop better clinical treatments for alcoholism and alcohol use disorders. One important way to facilitate this translation approach to alcohol research is to encourage the development of new tools and ideas for studying the effects of alcohol on brain and behavior. The recent advances in molecular biology and genetics, neuroscience, psychology, psychiatry, bioengineering and related fields offer great promise for defining key mechanisms and pathways that underlie the transition to excessive drinking and using these targets to develop effective and personalized treatment strategies.
The major goal of the Pilot Core is to identify and recruit individuals to use unique tools carry out projects that will generate novel and important data, which will help advance our understanding of how alcohol affects brain function. The aims of the Pilot Core 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 proposal describing a research plan that 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 mechanism are rigorously monitored for progress, and mentoring is offered to junior investigators and to those new to the alcohol field.
Actively seeking pilot projects from MUSC researchers, across the diverse set of disciplines within the university, expands our research capabilities and provides training and support to investigators who seek to join us in solving the problems associated with excessive drinking.