SART Program Page Information

SART Training program

What is SART?

Substance Abuse Disorders Research Training

SART is a Training program funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (Grant no. 1R25DA050723-01A1) at Charles R. Drew University (CDU) and UCLA that is designed to advance substance abuse research skills and to reduce health disparities in substance use disorders and addiction.

Goal: Educate researchers at all stages of their career in substance use disorder research, responsible conduct of research, and career advancement with a novel emphasis on community engagement and dissemination.

SART provides in-person and online training in basic research methods, biostatistics, grant writing, professional development, and more!

Who is it for?

1. Pre-professional Trainees (undergraduates, master’s students, and post-baccalaureate; early-stage) from academic programs at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU) or California State University, Dominguez Hills that require a thesis

2. Post-doctoral Fellows: Recently completed PhD or first post-doctoral fellowship with prior experience or interest in substance use research and have other similar skills such as neurobiology or molecular biology.

3. Candidates from underrepresented groups in science, including those who are Black or African American, Hispanic or Latinx, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander are encouraged to apply. Individuals with disabilities or those from disadvantaged backgrounds are also encouraged to apply.

Program Requirements

Individualized Development Plans will be created for each trainee. Specific requirements are as follows:

Pre-professional Trainees

  • 20 hours/week for 1 year
  • Write and publish one paper
  • Produce a written thesis to present at annual research symposium

Post-doctoral Fellows

  • Full-time for 2.5 years
  • Mentor junior trainees
  • Publish 2-5 papers
  • Submit 1 or more grants

All Trainees attend (Post-doctoral Fellows only required to attend 1st year):

  • Trainings
  • 5 all-day institutes with topics on: 1) Methodological Skill Development, 2) Diverse Populations: Working with racial/ethnic, sexual and gender minorities, 3) Basic Science Research Skill Development, 4) Clinical, Epidemiological and Behavioral Skill Development, and 5) Grant and Writing Skill Development
  • 10-part, weekly 1-hour lunchtime seminars on responsible conduct of research
  • 8-part, weekly 1-hour lunchtime grant writing course
  • Several additional optional trainings, such as:
      • 8-part, weekly 1-hour lunch time biostatistics class
      • Bi-monthly evening informal social gatherings to discuss research in progress, hot topics in substance use disorders, and professional development workshop
      • UCLA Journal Club
  • Practicum in Clinical Addiction
    • Offers exposure to a variety of settings that deliver addiction medicine services
  • Conferences/Special Events:
    • Annual Substance Abuse Research Day – CDU
    • UCLA Translational Neuroscience of Drug Abuse Annual Research Retreat
    • Smoking Cessation/ Drug Abuse Dissemination Day – CDU
    • Research Day – April 23rd
    • Biomedical Sciences Research Thesis Colloquium – August
    • Virtual Integrated Care Conference (October 28-29; optional)
  • Mentor meetings
    • Weekly with research mentor; monthly with community mentor

Program Benefits

  • Prepares you for career in biomedical research or medicine
  • Helps you progress to the next stage of your career
  • Receive Completion Certificate to add to CV
  • Networking opportunities, in person and via social media (Facebook page and LinkedIn group)
  • Learn how to write grants
  • Opportunities to publish in peer-reviewed journals
  • Work with highly skilled and reputable mentors
    • Diverse CDU and UCLA faculty have been assisting trainees at all levels transition to the next stage of their professional career, including medical school, PhD programs, faculty positions, and industry jobs
  • Practice multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary team science and work with various health care professionals
  • Post-Doctoral Fellows on track for faculty positions
  • Stipend may be available to pre-professional students depending on eligibility

When does it start?

September, 2020 – August, 2021 (approximately)

How to apply?

  • Online application: TBA
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • One reference (from current mentor or advisor is preferred) for Pre-Professional Trainees and 3 references for Post-Doctoral Fellows, one must be a current mentor
  • Personal statement
  • Letter of interest
  • Letter of support from program director (Pre-Professional Trainees) or current mentor (Post-Doctoral Fellows)


Potential Post-Doctoral Fellows who meet criteria will be invited to give a virtual or in-person lecture on their research and meet with members of the SART grant team. Potential Pre-Professional Trainees will be invited to meet with their prospective mentor to determine fit.

Research Mentors and Projects

Mentors are senior substance use researchers at CDU and UCLA.

All the research mentors have significant experience in NIDA-related research and most have NIH or other funding in the broad area of substance use disorder research.

Name (Institution)

Title of Project

Project Description (Agency, Grant #)

Assari, Shervin (CDU)                        

Racial and Ethnic Differences in the Protective Effects of Socioeconomic Status and Policies on Tobacco Use

Use existing national data sets such as PATH to test how racial and ethnic groups differ in the protective effects of social determinants of health, socioeconomic status, and tobacco control policies.

Bath, Eraka 

Commercially Sexually Exploited Youth in Specialty Courts: Examining Substance Use and Mental Health Problems and Adapting Emerging Technologies to increase Engagement

This project will adapt emerging technologies, such as mHealth and text messaging, for justice-involved youth to increase their engagement and retention in mental health and substance use services. The project is being undertaken through a partnership with the STAR Court, a specialty court in Los Angeles County's juvenile justice system, focused on judicially-involved girls who are impacted by commercial sexual exploitation.

Booker-Vaughns, Juanita
(CDU Comm. Faculty)

Improving Quality of Care for Psychiatric and Neurological Disorders

Research will focus on improving quality of care for psychiatric and neurological disorders across the lifespan, with a particular interest in improving health literacy.

Evans, Chris

Studies concerning the relationship between pain and modulation of opioid reward (Project III of CSORDA)

Preclinical research using mouse models to determine the effects of chronic pain on affect and opioid systems, including self-administration of opioid drugs such as fentanyl and oxycodone.

*Friedman, Theodore

Metabolic, Cardiovascular and Carcinogen Effects of Electronic Cigarettes

Study the detrimental effects electronic cigarettes on hepatic steatosis and cardiac dysfunction in mice. Projects on policy and epidemiology of electronic cigarettes or tobacco are also available.  Additional animal research projects available.

*Grella, Christine

Linking individuals with opioid use disorders to treatment: Community and criminal justice system interventions.

These studies address the challenges of accessing treatment for individuals with opioid use disorders, including strategies to link individuals to treatment following an opioid overdose and after release from jail/prison, and to promote their treatment engagement and retention over time. 

Harawa, Nina

HIV Intervention Models for Criminal Justice Involved Black MSM Networks
(Community title: Building Agent-Based Models for Racialized Justice Systems)

Develop an agent-based model in order to simulate the impact of various interventions/policies on HIV risk and HIV transmission in criminal justice involved black men who have sex with men.

Hasan , Kamrul

Role of CARF in Insulin Resistance and NAFLD

Determine if CARF inhibition by p53 causes insulin resistance in mice treated with HFD with and without nicotine.

Hurley, Brian

Embedding Comprehensive Smoking Cessation Programs into Community Clinics

Evaluate the implementation of a validated specialty smoking cessation intervention within Los Angeles County-operated Primary Care and Community Mental Health clinics.

*Lee, David
(CDU Comm. Faculty)

Coalition Building to address HIV Prevention and Care Disparities.

Associate Director for Drew Center for AIDS Research Education and Services (Drew CARES) and Coordinator for Partnerships of Unified Services in HIV (PUSH).

London, Edythe

Neural Substrates of Cigarette Craving, Withdrawal, and Relief: Male-Female Differences

Determine the neural bases for male-female differences in smoking-related states, such as craving and withdrawal, which contribute to susceptibility to lapses in abstinence.

Maidment, Nigel

Genetic Dissection of Striatal Indirect-Pathway in Opioid Withdrawal Aversion (Component 1 of CSORDA)

Evaluate a major force driving relapse in drug addiction, including opiate addiction, is the almost intolerable aversive effects of drug withdrawal.

Murillo, Jovita
(CDU Comm. Faculty)

Stigma and Substance Use in Communities

Explore stigma among SUD/OUD communities and examine the relationship between the built environment and the importance of providing “holistic” community-based solutions to this problem.

*Pervin, Shehla

Metabolic and Carcinogen Effect of Electronic Cigarettes

Assess the carcinogenic effect of electronic cigarettes in a mouse model of breast cancer.

Ray, Lara

A RCT of the Neuroimmune Modulator Ibudilast for the Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorder

Advance medication development for alcohol use disorder by conducting a 12-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized trial of ibudilast.

Shaheen, Magda

Accelerating Excellence in Translational Science (AXIS)

1) secondhand smoke and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; 2) combined effect of secondhand smoke and diet on metabolic syndrome; 3) relation of smoking, sleep disorders, and healthy eating index with cognitive function; 4) electronic cigarette, metabolic syndrome and cognitive function (NIHMD Grant # U54MD007598)

Shao, Max

Maternal Inhaled Nicotine Leads to Aberrant Development of Hypertensive Phenotype

(1) Test the hypothesis that antenatal exposure to maternal inhaled nicotine programs vascular oxidative stress via epigenetic up-regulation of NOX2 gene, resulting in a hypertensive phenotype in offspring.
(2) Developing an efficient E-cigarette aerosol generation and exposure system for rodent models with aerosol characteristics equivalent to those inhaled by E-cigarette users.

*Shoptaw, Steve

Co-lead for the Big South/West Node of NIDA’s Clinical Trials Network

(1) Two Phase 2/3 medication trials evaluating buprenorphine for cocaine (CTN 0109) and methamphetamine (CTN 0110) use disorders are ongoing; (2) mSTUDY cohort data available for secondary analyses.

Sinha-Hikim, Amiya (CDU)

Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program

Research activities focus on detrimental effects of e-cigarettes of transgenerational asthma and the germ cell epigenic memory.

Williams, Pluscedia (CDU Comm. Faculty)

Community-Academic Coalition

Engage with trainees around mental health issues, mitigating homelessness, and wellness programs for illnesses such as diabetes and cancer.

Young-Brinn, Angela
(CDU Comm. Faculty)

Adapting for a Conceptual Framework for Patient Engagement in Emergency Department Research

Refining care delivery in the emergency dept. setting plays a major role in the resulting relationships and experiences patients and families have within the healthcare setting and with those who provide care.

Ferrini, Monica (CDU)

The Effects of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems on Mice Corpora Cavernosa associated with erectile dysfunction

Cigarette smoke is considered proatherogenic due to increased oxidative stress of the entire vascular system, leading to erectile dysfunction. There has been a rapid rise in the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), or e-cigarettes, as a presumed safer alternative to tobacco smoking. We aim to be at the forefront in contributing to the field of sexual health by examining the effects of ENDS exposure on penile tissue and function in the animal model.

*Project suitable for remote access.


Schedule of Events/Timeline

September – Choose research mentors (deadline is 9/26); half-day orientation where mentors each present their research for 10 minutes
October 16, 2020 – Institute 1
December 4, 2020 – Institute 2
February – Institute 3; Annual Substance Abuse Research Day (CDU)
April – Institute 4
June – Institute 5; TNDA annual research retreat (UCLA); Smoking Cessation/ Drug Abuse Dissemination Day (CDU)
Summer months – Clinical practicum experience; 8 weeks of RCR Training
August – Presentation of the Masters in Biomedical Sciences trainee’s research and thesis defense (2 full days)

For more information, contact:
Cristina Moldovan, PhD at