New neuroscience mentorship program aims to improve the quality and diversity of science

Department news | October 27, 2022

The tremendous growth in neuroscience research and training has not translated into training opportunities for historically marginalized groups, including ethnic minorities, people from economically disadvantaged groups and people with disabilities. These disparities in training, mentoring and education are particularly concerning for the study of addiction, as the harms related to drug use and addiction disproportionally affect minority and underserved communities. The historic underrepresentation of marginalized groups in neuroscience stems, in part, from a lack of research opportunities in these groups during their undergraduate education which can lead to lower admittance and completion of neuroscience PhD programs.

To address this lack of opportunity, Susan Ferguson, PhD, and Paul Phillips, PhD, have led the development of the University of Washington Substantial Opportunities in Addiction Research (UW-SOAR) Doctoral Readiness Program. Funded by a four-year grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, SOAR will bring in a total of 12 postbaccalaureate researchers, each receiving a two-year mentored research experience in the world-class UW NAPE (Neurobiology of Addiction, Pain and Emotion) Center coupled with educational and professional development opportunities to facilitate their recruitment and success in neuroscience doctoral programs. The target audience is people from diverse backgrounds who attended an undergraduate institute with limited research opportunities. Program participants will be expected to develop novel research projects that will provide important new insights into the neurobiology underlying drug use and addiction. The first cohort is expected to begin Summer 2023.