Office of Research Training, Diversity, and Disparities Newsletter, June/July 2023

What’s New at NIDA 

Register for the 2023 Virtual NIDA International Forum – Deadline Approaching

The NIDA International Program invites you to the 2023 NIDA International Forum, which will take place June 8 and 9, 2023. This year’s plenary sessions will feature presentations by researchers from around the world on a range of issues related to substance use and addiction that can benefit from international perspectives. Topics addressed will include:

  • Scalable treatment and care for psychoactive stimulant use disorders
  • International research and training
  • International approaches to cannabis regulation
  • Substance use disorder issues and rural health
  • Media campaigns addressing addiction issues
  • Building a global quality assurance system for treatment services

In addition, International Forum research posters will be available to view in the Forum Poster Gallery in the online platform from June 8 to 15.

Held annually, the NIDA International Forum highlights a range of drug use and addiction research conducted around the world. This unique scientific meeting allows participants to network with talented colleagues, learn about drug use research and policy issues across the globe, and discuss NIDA-supported fellowships and other programs that can support international collaborations.

NIH Research Enhancement Award (R15) Webinar

Learn more about NIH programs that support small-scale research projects at educational institutions that provide baccalaureate or advanced degrees. Join the NIH Research Enhancement Award (R15) programs during a virtual event on June 15 at 2:30 PM ET.

This event will give background and introduction to the two R15 Programs that NIDA participates in:

  • AREA: Academic Research Enhancement Award for Undergraduate-Focused Institutions
  • REAP: Research Enhancement Award Program for Health Professionals and Graduate Schools

This informational session will be led by NIH Program Staff, will feature a Q&A period, and is ideal for prospective applicants. All are welcome.

Open Funding Announcements to Address Workforce Diversity and  Disparities

Please make note of the following funding opportunities that NIDA participates in which may be a great match for your interests and skills.   We strongly recommend that you review NIDA’s Strategic Plan to consider how your proposal may fit within NIDA priorities.  We also recommend that you read the notice of funding opportunity carefully for important eligibility and application instructions and reach out to a contact listed for advice on your submission.

RFI - Proposed Changes to NRSA Fellowship Review - closes 6/23

The intent of the proposed changes is to facilitate the mission of NRSA fellowship peer review – to identify the most promising trainees and the excellent, individualized training programs that will help them become the outstanding scientists of the next generation.  Program and review staff across NIH will be hearing more from the implementation committee in the future but a very first step is gathering broad input through a formal RFI. I am writing to ask that, in your capacity as an Extramural Research Training Representative, you help us publicize the RFI. As you speak with early career scientists about training opportunities, please make them aware of the RFI and encourage them to provide a response. It’s important that NIH hear from the full range of the extramural community. The RFI closes June 23.

Please share this link This webpage has background information, a link to detailed reviewer guidance and proposed changes to the application, and a link to the RFI comment submission form.

Interested in Attending a Scientific Conference? The NIDA Diversity Scholars Travel Award Program is Accepting Applications!

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Office of Diversity and Health Disparities (ODHD) is accepting applications for the NIDA Diversity Scholars Travel Award Program to help defray the costs of attending national scientific conferences. Please see the below application for more information and consider sharing with anyone who may be interested. Scientists from underrepresented backgrounds are encouraged to apply, though individuals from all backgrounds are eligible to participate.

Apply for a travel award to any of the below scientific conferences:

  • The National Hispanic Science Network International Conference (NHSN) on September 21-30, 2023, in Washington, DC. Applications due by June 28, 2023.
  • The Annual Society for Neuroscience (SfN) Meeting on November 11-15, 2023, in Washington, DC. Applications due by August 12, 2023.

Please reach out to Julie Huffman if you have any questions. See the NIDA Diversity Scholars Travel Award Program application for more information on how to apply. 

Bohdan Nosyk, Ph.D.
Bohdan Nosyk, Ph.D.

NIDA HIV Research Webinar

Join the NIDA HIV Research Program July 26 at 1pm for another installment of its online HIV seminar series, “Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in the US: How Do We Intervene to Meet Our Ambitious Goals?", presented by Bohdan Nosyk, Ph.D., Associate Professor and St. Paul's Hospital CANFAR Chair in HIV/AIDS Research at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. Dr. Noysk will discuss research that seeks to inform complex policy decisions related to issues surrounding HIV and substance use. Dr. Noysk teaches about health economic evaluation and health services research and has done extensive research in U.S. population areas, Canada and in China.  He will discuss how economic evaluation, mathematical modeling and analyses of health administrative data can help inform policy.

Career Development Spotlight: Dr. Katherine Serafine

Dr. Katherine Serafine
Dr. Katherine Serafine

Dr. Serafine earned her B.A. in psychology from Norwich University in Northfield, VT, and her M.A. in psychology as well as her Ph.D. in Behavior, Cognition, and Neuroscience from American University in Washington, DC. Dr. Serafine completed a postdoctoral fellowship in behavioral pharmacology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, TX. Her research interests include the impact of diet and drug history on abuse vulnerability. Recently, Dr. Serafine's research has also focused on sex differences in drug sensitivity, and the neurochemical and behavioral overlap between drug abuse and food-related conditions, such as obesity and binge eating disorder. Dr. Serafine was appointed as a tenure track Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Texas at El Paso in 2015. In 2021, Dr. Serafine was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure. 

  1. At what point in your life did you know you wanted to become a scientist? What drew you to the STEM field and particularly substance use/addiction research?
    I had a lot of great science teachers at the high school level that sparked my interest in STEM. Looking back, I remember the science courses in high school being the most challenging but also the most interesting! Around the time I was applying for college, I took a psychology course in high school and quickly realized that’s what I wanted to major in. In college, I had a work study job working with an experimental psychologist who was studying mouse behavior, and that was when I really became fascinated with how the brain is involved in behavior. That was the driving curiosity that pushed me into wanting to go to graduate school– and I became interested in animal models of addiction and understanding substance use disorder during my graduate training.
  2. Were there any events or individuals who inspired you throughout your professional journey?
    I am fortunate to have had a lot of amazing role models and mentors throughout my journey. This includes family members and peers, but maybe the single biggest inspiration was my first undergraduate research mentor - the late Dr. Milton “Doc” Hammond at Norwich University. Before working with Doc Hammond, I had the idea that the career a person should choose should be what they are “good at” or what comes most naturally, rather than what was the most interesting or exciting. As a student, science courses were always the hardest for me, but also the most fascinating. Doc Hammond encouraged me to follow my interests, rather than to shy away from challenge. It was counter intuitive to me to follow the fascination rather than the path of least resistance, but I am so glad Doc Hammond encouraged me to think about the brain and see the challenge of science as an exciting problem to tackle, rather than an obstacle to avoid.
  3. What advice would you give to Early-Stage Investigators (ESIs) and/or scholars at earlier career stages who working towards the goal of being independently funded?
    The best advice anyone gave to me was to find people who you can trust to be honest with you and ask them to read your grant application materials before you submit them. This requires you to be proactive with your own writing schedule to have enough time before the deadline to seek input – but having people who are willing to take a “first look” at your aims/research strategy ahead of submission can be extremely valuable. There are also a lot of formal programs designed to help ESIs with grant writing, and I gained a lot from participating in a few of these like the NIDA Diversity Scholars Network and the Mentoring Institute for Neuroscience Diversity Scholars (MINDS) program. Maybe one other thing to share is – a grant not being discussed doesn’t necessarily mean that the project isn’t worthwhile, or not worthy of funding. Each review is a chance to gain new information about areas to improve, even if the outcome isn’t a great score or chance of funding. I also think celebrating the submissions can help reframe the process. I try to take time to celebrate turning in an application as much (if not more) than the outcome of that submission. The submission part is where all the initial hard work is done, and I think it is a great time to reflect and celebrate!
  4. What was the best and worst career advice you have received during your journey of becoming a scientist?
    I remember being told repeatedly as a trainee that the odds were against me – in ways that sometimes made it feel impossible that I would ever become an academic researcher. I heard often that there weren’t enough academic jobs for the number of trainees who want them – and that the odds get even worse if you are from an underrepresented group, and if you’re a woman. I have clear memories of professional development meetings where the main message felt like “figure out plan B” instead of “here’s how to keep working towards your goals, even when the odds are tough”. As hard as it was to hear those things as a trainee, it helped me to reflect on my interests a lot more than I would have otherwise, and it also fueled my drive to try to beat the odds. Had I not had those experiences or heard that advice I am not sure if I would have taken stock of my interests to work with underrepresented trainees, or pursued job opportunities at minority serving institutions. I also think it is important to share with trainees that goals also change over time. To that end, maybe the best career advice I received is to check in with yourself about your goals regularly, so that as they change and evolve over time and phases of your career, you can recalibrate what you are focusing on to achieve those goals more effectively.
  5. What has been the most challenging obstacle you have had to face throughout your journey to becoming a scientist and what have you done to push through?
    The most challenging professional obstacle was learning what advice to take and what advice to ignore. When you are just starting out your career, a lot of advice comes at you from many different directions and some of it is potentially bad advice – but it can be extremely hard to identify which is which. One thing that helped me navigate that was accumulating more people in my network that I could seek advice from. I would encourage trainees to take an active role early on in building a network to include peers and folks who are ahead of you in their careers, both within and outside your institution, and to include in your network people who are like you, in terms of demographics, career stage, or goals – but also people who are very different from you. As you have more people to seek advice from, you will notice similarities and differences in the kind of advice you receive, and that can help a lot to weed through what is good advice versus bad or unhelpful advice.
  6. Is there anything else that you would like to share with the NIDA community about your inspiring journey?
    This might be for the trainee members of the community more than anyone else, but one thing I would share is that as tempting as it is – try to avoid comparing yourself to other people. This is something I still struggle with, but it really can do more damage than good. Professional success is defined in many ways, and not all jobs are equivalent – nor are the circumstances and responsibilities we are all juggling. Success for you might look very different than for someone else, and if you are constantly comparing yourself to other people, it can make it hard to recognize and appreciate your own accomplishments.

NIDA Diversity Scholars Network Professional Development Program

The following Scholars have been selected to participate in the  2023 National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Office of Diversity and Health Disparities (ODHD) Diversity Scholars Network (NDSN) Program. NDSN is a rigorous and comprehensive mentorship program aimed at improving the funding of outstanding underrepresented early career investigators in substance use and substance use disorder research.  This is a three-part series designed to support scholars in gaining research grant funding to build a sustainable independent research career. 

Alejandra Feernandez, PhD
Amelia Cuarenta, PhD
Armiel Suriaga, RN, PhD
Dale Maglalang, PhD
Fatin Atrooz, PhD
Kenye Law, PhD
Marilyn Horta, PhD
Orrin Ware, PhD
Patricia Goodhines, PhD
Pricila Mullachery, PhD
Tara Bautista, PhD
Cho-Hee Shrader, PhD

Congratulations to Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award 

We would like to congratulate the awardees of NIDA Fellowship Grant (F31) awards in Fiscal Year 2022! The goal of this program is to provide Predoctoral individuals research training opportunities (including international) to trainees at the graduate levels. See below for a full list of active NIDA F31 award recipients from NIH RePORTER.

Full list of active NIDA F31 grantees from NIH RePORTER.

Don’t forget! New funding opportunities are released on a continuous basis. For more information on NIDA Funding Opportunities, visit the Funding Opportunities at NIDA webpage. For a full list of NIH training, fellowship, career development, and research education funding opportunities including parent announcements, please visit and subscribe to the NIH Guide to Grants and Funding.

Announcing the NIH Institutional Excellence in DEIA Prize Competition

NIH is now accepting submissions for a new initiative that rewards effective strategies for enhancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) in research environments: the NIH Institutional Excellence in DEIA in Biomedical and Behavioral Research Prize Competition

The prize competition aims to recognize transformative cultures, systems, projects, and processes developed by academic institutions to promote inclusive excellence and create environments that foster and value a culture of DEIA. The prize competition will also identify practices for enhancing DEIA within faculty, postdoctoral scholars, and student bodies that can be disseminated for adoption by other institutions. 

The competition is co-sponsored by UNITE and 24 NIH institutes and centers. NIH will award up to 10 prizes of $100,000 each through the competition. Up to half of the prizes will be set aside for consideration for limited-resourced institutions. NIH may also recognize additional entries as honorable mentions with nonmonetary awards. 

To participate, registration is required by Tuesday, September 12, 2023, at 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time.  Entries are being accepted through Tuesday, September 26, 2023. Please visit the prize competition website for information about eligibility, participation, and submission requirements.  Submissions are encouraged from minority-serving institutions and other institutions with a track record of training individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.

Prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to attend the prize competition pre-submission webinar on May 17, 2023. Questions may be submitted in advance to A recording of the event will be available for those unable to attend. Please share this announcement and urge those eligible in your networks to register and submit a prize competition entry.

Racial Equity Initiative

During 2022, NIDA's Racial Equity Initiative released Notices of Funding Opportunity (NOFOs) for research to advance equity for racial and/or ethnic minority populations in the United States. The NOFOs call for innovative, solution-oriented, community-engaged research from research teams with a commitment to broad dissemination of findings. Applications are expected to incorporate diverse perspectives, and all types of institutions are strongly encouraged to apply.  

A recording of the TA webinar that was held on September 26, 2022, during which NIDA staff provided an overview of the NOFOs and responded to questions, can be found at:  The NOFOs and webinar information can be found on the NIDA Racial Equity Initiative Funding Priority website. The NOFOs are also listed in the NIH Guide.

Please reach out to the NIDA staff listed on the FOAs with questions! 

For more grant information please visit the NIDA Grants & Funding website.

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