News and Updates
Despite the pandemic, our training grant maintained our training activities and continued to make a significant impact on our trainees. We filled all our slots (4 postdoctoral fellows and 3 predoctoral students) with highly qualified trainees after careful evaluation, and several new trainee candidates are currently being evaluated by the selection committee.
Our program is also gaining influence outside of the University of Chicago mainly through our annual retreat. This annual event fosters collaborations among Chicago research groups that work on addiction, dopamine and the basal ganglia.
Our bi-weekly addictions TG seminar (Zoom meetings since March 2020) has been well attended by faculty, trainees and other interested graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Among this year’s TG seminar, two of the meetings were devoted to career development talks and discussions by former trainees of our current TG trainers. The trainees enjoyed it very much and thought it would be especially helpful for their future independent careers.
We also organized a writing workshop for our trainees with the assistance of an instructor from the University of Chicago’s Writing Programs. All trainees submitted their writing examples and the workshop focused on structuring the goals of the proposal, identifying the gap in knowledge, outlining testable hypotheses and writing in a non-technical clear manner.
Another important progress worth mentioning is externship. These activities were mentored experiences in laboratories or settings removed from their own. For several of the trainees, this experience significantly broadened their expertise and made them more competitive on the job market.Our Training Grant has benefited from substantial efforts made by the Office of Graduate Affairs (OGA)in the Biological Sciences Division (BSD). OGA is actively involved in recruiting and retaining under-represented minority (URM) students, and one of our Training Grant faculty, Bill Green, has been actively involved in the diversity outreach. OGA ensures representation by faculty and current students at major URM conferences, including the Emerging Researchers National Conference in Stem (ERN), the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), the annual meeting of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), the Association of Minority Health Professions Schools, and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) Minority Programs Symposium. In addition to these ongoing efforts, the OGA and the BSD graduate diversity committee hosts an annual recruitment event called “Discover UChicago”. This is a competitive application-based visit to our campus designed to provide URM college seniors an opportunity to visit UChicago and learn more about the graduate programs, the University and the city, while also obtaining advice on the graduate school application process.
- Predoctoral trainee Elisa Pabon received a NIH DA F31 in July 2020 and a $1000 disseration research award in February 2021 for her thesis studying at menstrual cycle phase differences in response to oral delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol