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Alcohol Research Training in Neurosciences
MSC 08 4740
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131

Phone: 505 272-4411
Fax: 505 272-8082

Alcohol Research Training Program

The Alcohol Research Training Program in Neurosciences at The University of New Mexico’s Health Sciences provides students with multidisciplinary training that prepares them for a successful career in alcohol research. The program’s training encompasses different areas of alcohol neuroscience research, including the neurobiology of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, an important area of research where our institution has developed significant strength.

The Albuquerque-based program is funded by a T32 grant from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). The program provides tuition, fees, insurance and stipend support from the National Institutes of Health and NIAAA. In addition, students receive funds for laboratory supplies and travel expenses to a scientific conference. Support is provided for a maximum of three years. After that time period, the funding will come from individual predoctoral fellowships or the mentor’s laboratory.

C. Fernando Valenzuela, MD/PhD
Director of Training Program

Application Instructions and Information

  • Open to students in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program at UNM Health Sciences and the Psychology Graduate Program (Cognition, Brain and Behavior Area) at UNM.
  • Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program students typically apply at the end of the first year of training. Psychology students typically apply after completing their Master of Science project.
  • Although applications are accepted year-round, students should apply between May and June for best consideration.
  • Applications will be reviewed by the program director and steering committee, who will assess the student’s academic achievement and commitment to graduate work in the neurosciences.
  • Preference will be given to students who display a clear commitment to a career in alcohol research as assessed by a one-page essay written by the applicant describing his/her rationale for applying to the program and future career plans, and by letters of recommendation from past or current mentors.
  • The student will be interviewed individually by all members of the steering committee to further assess his/her commitment to a future career in alcohol research. Applications will be reviewed by the External Advisory Committee. 
  • For the BSGP students, at least one of the student’s required research rotations must have been completed in the laboratory of the potential mentor, as the committee will carefully consider the match between a student and mentor. Preference will be given to applicants with a GPA of at least 3.2 in all core courses.
  • Please submit PDF files of the following documents to FValenzuela@salud.unm.edu:
    1. Updated curriculum vitae
    2. Statement of interest
    3. Unofficial academic transcripts
    4. Arrange for the mentor to directly submit a letter of support and NIH biosketch (including current and pending grant funding)

Courses and Additional Requirements

In addition or as part of the requirements for their respective PhD programs, trainees must complete the following courses:

  • Biomed 505B-002-Scientific Writing (Fall), teaches graduate students how to write a manuscript in the biomedical sciences. 
  • Biomed 505-Developmental Neurotoxicology (Fall, odd years), focuses on the impact of alcohol and toxic agents on central nervous system development  
  • Biomed 505-Neurobiology of Alcoholism (Fall, even years), focuses on the actions of alcohol on neurotransmitter systems.
  • Biomed 555-Problem Based-Bioethics (Fall), a problem-based discussion course on topics in bioethics such as publication credits and authorships; conflict of interest and fraud, scientific misconduct, human genomics and other relevant issues.
  • Biomed 505-Statistical Analysis: a Practical Approach (Fall), covers basic statistical analysis techniques from a practical standpoint.

Additional Requirements

Alcohol Research Journal Club (BMSB 243 - fourth Monday of every month during the academic year from 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.): This journal club functions as a focal meeting point for trainees and training faculty as well as other scientists (i.e. postdoctoral fellows, medical students, technicians, etc.) interested in alcohol research. Trainees are expected to present a recent paper on alcohol research at least once a year. 

Alcohol Research Retreat (May of every year): The retreat will consist of presentations in which students, post-docs and other investigators can present new data about their alcohol research. In addition, a seminar will be presented by a prominent alcohol researcher (e.g., any of the members of our external advisory panel). At the end of the retreat, the training grant steering committee and the external advisory panel will evaluate student progress.

National Research Service Award (NRSA) proposal submission: Students are required to submit this type (or an equivalent type) of predoctoral fellowship application during the second year of the program. The intention of this requirement is to assist the students in building a strong foundation in grant writing, which will increase their chances for success in obtaining extramural funding in the future. Additionally, the fellowship application serves as the basis of the student’s written portion of the comprehensive examination.