Advanced Fellowship in Mental Illness Research and Treatment –South Central Mental Illness Research, Education, & Clinical Center (MIRECC)
The overarching goal of this two-year fellowship program is to train future veteran affairs leaders for research careers in a rapidly evolving health care arena by providing a firm foundation in mental health research, education, and clinical care. Within this overall context, the fellowship will offer four specialty tracks.
Health Services Research Track
This track trains researchers who are well-versed in the issues of access, utilization, outcomes, and effectiveness of geriatric mental health disorders. The specific educational activities will serve to enhance knowledge of the clinical issues underlying the health services issues.
Clinical Psychopharmacology Track
This track helps investigators to translate discoveries in brain science into clinically effective treatments for the brain-based illnesses like depression and bipolar disorder.
Substance Addictions Track
This track develops investigator and clinical careers in treatment for substance use disorders including opioid, stimulant, nicotine, and alcohol dependence. Our clinical trials combine medications with various behavioral therapies such as contingency management for drug dependence. We also examine the pathophysiology of addictions using genetics, neuroimaging, and acute drug administration studies in humans.
The neuroimaging research includes both SPECT and functional MRI (fMRI) to detect and treat cocaine-induced cerebral perfusion defects and to predict pharmacotherapy outcome. These clinical studies are complemented by pre-clinical laboratories in behavioral pharmacology, immunology, and molecular genetics.
This track explores brain and behavior relationships in mental illness that influence their cause and treatment. Conditions such as anxiety disorders and complications of impulsivity, aggression, language, and mood disturbances are presently under study, but in principle this approach is applicable to a wide range of conditions. The trainee will be exposed to a variety of disciplines, techniques, and approaches, and will have the opportunity to develop their own focus based on their interest and training. The applicant will be guided toward generation of hypothesis-driven research that leads to measurement (e.g., brain structure or function, neuropsychological performance) and the testing of a therapeutic intervention.