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 2022-August 2023

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.



Project Description (Agency, Grant #)

Assari, Shervin (CDU)

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

Use PATH data to test how racial and ethnic groups differ in terms of the protective effects of social determinants of health, socioeconomic status, and tobacco control policies. (NIDA Grant # R01 HD0845264).

Bath, Eraka 

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

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 detention court in Los Angeles County focused on judicially-involved girls who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation. (NIDA Grant # 5K12 DA000357). Dr. Bath is the Vice Chair for Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute.

Booker-Vaughns, Juanita
(CDU Comm. Faculty)

Improving Quality of Care for Psychiatric and Neurological Disorders.

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

Cooper, Ziva
Cannabis Research Initiative Associate Professor Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior Dept of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences Dept of Anesthesiology and Perioperative MedicineDavid Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA

Sex-dependent effects of cannabis: Assessing abuse-related and pharmacokinetic differences between men and women.

Sex-dependent effects of cannabis: Assessing abuse-related and pharmacokinetic differences between men and women.

Evans, Chris

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

Preclinical research using mouse models to determine the effects of chronic pain on effect and opioid systems, including self-administration of opioid drugs such as fentanyl and oxycodone. (NIDA Grant # DA005010).

*Friedman, Theodore

Metabolic, Cardiovascular, and Carcinogen Effects of Electronic Cigarettes.

Develop an “ENDS aerosol generation and exposure system” that generates clinically relevant animal models for research on detrimental effects of ENDS on human health and will determine if ENDS + HFD in mice leads to hyperglycemia and insulin resistance, coupled with hepatic steatosis (CA TRDRP Grant # 251P-003).

Grella, Christine
(UCLA) (Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior; Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA)

Improving access to treatment for individuals with opioid use disorders.

Research on interventions to improve linkage to treatment with medications for opioid use disorder for individuals:1) Following overdose reversal by EMS.2)At discharge from jail.3)Who is contacted by street outreach and evaluates long-term outcomes, including opioid use, overdose, and mortality.

Hansen, Helena
(Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior; Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA)

Structural Competency in Medicine and Mental Health; Center for Social Medicine at UCLA.

Application of critical theory, policy analysis, and ethnographic methods to understand opioids and race, racial marketing of pharmaceuticals, and structural competency to address social determinants of health.

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. (NIGMS Grant # SC2GM125551-01A1).

London, Edythe
Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior; Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

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

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(NIDA Grant # R37 DA044467).

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.

Murillo, Jovita
(CDU Comm. Faculty)

Life Sciences Institute Endowment Program.

Explore the connection between the built environment and mental health. (NIMHD Grant # 52S21MD000103).

Pervin, Shehla

Metabolic and Carcinogen Effects of Electronic Cigarettes.

Assess the carcinogenic effect of electronic cigarettes in a mouse model of breast cancer. (TRDRP Grant # 251P003)

Richter, Linda PhD

(CDU/Partnership to End Addiction, Vice President of Prevention Research and Analysis).

Dr. Richter’s research focuses on developing and promoting policies to protect youth from exposure, access, and use of nicotine, alcohol, cannabis, and controlled prescription medications. Her work also seeks to influence policy and clinical practice to take an earlier, broader, more inclusive approach to substance use prevention by addressing early risk and protective factors and implementing large-scale policies that contribute to family stability, healthy child development, and youth resilience.

Shaheen, Magda

Accelerating Excellence in Translational Science (AXIS).

Secondhand smoke and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The combined effect of secondhand smoke and diet on metabolic syndrome. Relation of smoking, sleep disorders, and healthy. Association of smoking, sleep disorders, and healthy eating index with cognitive function; and electronic cigarette, metabolic syndrome, and cognitive function (NIHMD Grant # U54MD007598).

Shao, Max

Maternal Inhaled Nicotine Leads to Aberrant Development of Hypertensive Phenotype.

Test the hypothesis that antenatal exposure to maternal inhaled nicotine programs vascular oxidative stress via epigenetic up-regulation of the NOX2 gene, resulting in a hypertensive phenotype in offspring.(NHLBI Grant # 1R01HL135623-01).

Shoptaw, Steve
Dept. of Family Medicine and Dept. Psychiatry; Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

MSM and Substances Cohort at UCLA Linking Infections Noting Effects (MASCULINE).

Assemble a cohort of minority men who have sex with men who actively use substances and engage in transmission risks(NIDA Grant # U01 DA036267).

Thames, April

Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Translational Neuroscience Research Program.

Dr. Thames conducts translational neuroscience research that focuses on the impact of chronic disease, substance abuse, socioeconomic disadvantage, lifetime stress/adversity, and resiliency on neurological, cognitive, and mental health outcomes. Her work has also examined factors that obscure the validity of neuropsychological test performance among ethnic/racial minority groups.

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.

*Project suitable for remote access.


Schedule of Events/Timeline

SART Institutes:

  1. October 28, 2022 - SART Institute 1: Methodological Skill Development
  2. December 2er2, 20222- SART Institute 2: Diverse Populations: Working with racial/ethnic, sexual, and gender minorities
  3. February 10, 2023- SART Institute 3: Basic Science Research Skill Development
  4. April 7, 2023- SART Institute 4: Clinical, Epidemiological, and Behavioral Skill Development
  5. June 23, 2023 - SART Institute 5: Grant and Writing Skill Development

SART Friday Seminars:

  1. November 18, 2022 - Women in Science of Substance Abuse Research 
  2. January 13, 2023 - How to be a Great Mentor/Mentee
  3. January 27, 2023- Opioid Epidemic
  4. February 17, 2023 - Addressing Social Inequalities in Health Care and Substance Use Treatment

SART Responsible Conduct of Research with Lee Irons Ph.D.

  1. Jan 24, 2023- Research Integrity (Lee Irons) 
  2. Feb 28, 2023 - Publication Ethics (Lee Irons)
  3. March 28, 2023 - NIH Public Access Policy (Lee Irons)
  4. April 25, 2023 - The Belmont Report (Junko Nishitani)
  5. May 23, 2023 - Informed Consent and Data Security (Junko Nishitani)
  6. Jun 27,2023 - Navigating the IRB Process (Junko Nishitani)


For more information contact:
Raven Bean, MPH at