Training scientists in substance use prevention focus of $3.2 million grant


Focus areas of Penn State's Prevention and Methodology Training (PAMT) program

Penn State’s Prevention and Methodology Training (PAMT) program provides training in prevention science and innovative statistical methods, with a focus on responsible conduct of research, rigor and reproducibility, health equity and professional skills. The program’s goal is to train the next generation of substance use and addiction researchers.

Image: Penn State

A $3.2 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) will fund the continuation of Penn State’s Prevention and Methodology Training (PAMT) program, which focuses on training the next generation of scientists in preventing substance use and addiction.

Effective strategies to prevent and reduce substance use and addiction across the life span are desperately needed. Tobacco, alcohol, cannabis and other illicit drug misuse cost the U.S. more than $810 billion each year and cause severe harm to individuals, families and communities.


Can't recommend this postdoc enough for those interested in learning innovative methods to advance prevention science. The training, mentorship, and access to top notch collaborators were instrumental for me.

A testimonial published on Twitter by Daniel Cooper, who recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Penn State’s Prevention and Methodology (PAMT) program. Cooper has accepted a position as a tenure-track assistant professor in the psychology department at the University of South Carolina.

IMAGE: Penn State

The PAMT program trains graduate and postdoctoral researchers from various disciplines who are interested in devoting their careers to substance use prevention. Trainees learn through an apprenticeship model, working closely with two highly qualified faculty mentors with expertise in substance use – one mentor specializing in prevention science and the other in cutting-edge statistical methods. They also receive formal and informal training in responsible research conduct, professional skills, rigor and reproducibility of their research, and health equity.

Anyone interested in an National Institutes of Health (NIH) post-doctoral fellowship in substance use prevention and methodology is encouraged to visit the PAMT website and apply via the Penn State jobs website as soon as possible, as applications are currently being reviewed.

“We invest heavily in our trainees,” said Stephanie Lanza, PAMT co-director and director of the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center at Penn State (PRC). “They participate in our labs, shadow us, write papers with us, and learn to write grants to the NIH.”

According to Lanza, the ideal PAMT candidate will be interested in adopting innovative statistical methods in their work, and that “at the end of the day, they have to want to make a difference in the impact of substance use and addiction.”

Established in 2005, PAMT has a powerful alumni network of more than 80 scientists who have gone on to research and teaching positions at top universities and research institutes around the country, said Lanza.


U.S. map with red pins indicating where PAMT alumni who are working as researchers are located. Heaviest concentrations are in the Northeast and west coast, with approximately 8 pins distributed through the middle section of the country.

Pins mark locations where clusters of alumni of Penn State’s Prevention and Methodology Training (PAMT) program alumni now work as researchers.

IMAGE: Penn State

Lanza added that Penn State’s Consortium to Combat Substance Abuse enhances the opportunities available to PAMT trainees, as they have access to a strong, interdisciplinary network of faculty in fields including biobehavioral health, human development and family studies, psychology, sociology and criminology, nursing, geography and engineering.

The training program is co-directed by Lanza and Jennifer Maggs, professor of human development and family studies with lead training roles held by Rina Eiden, professor of psychology, Gregory Fosco, associate professor of human development and family studies, and Jeremy Staff, professor of sociology and criminology. Co-administrators of the training program are Meg Small, PRC director of social innovation and assistant research professor of health and human development; and Damon Jones, associate professor of health and human development.

Maggs noted that “our enhanced interdisciplinary leadership team will allow us to expand on the high-quality training available to the nine predoctoral and four postdoctoral scholars funded each year through the PAMT training program.”

“Our hope is to help train the next generation of substance use and addiction researchers and ultimately improve health and well-being in society,” Maggs said.

Housed in the PRC, the program is funded by NIDA with additional support from the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research, the College of Health and Human Development, the College of the Liberal Arts, and the Social Science Research Institute.

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