University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Department of Psychiatry

Gale A. Richardson, PhD
Brooke S.G. Molina, PhD



Gale A. Richardson, PhD
Brooke S.G. Molina, PhD


The task of postdoctoral trainees is to be involved in developmental alcohol research. They work in a specific area and develop expertise that will prepare them for a career in alcohol research. At entry into the DART Program, postdoctoral fellows define, with the Program Directors and their mentors, an area of research interest and a project that can be completed within two years. Fellows are encouraged to start developing an application for research funding during their first year of training (e.g., F32 applications, small grants, foundation awards such as NARSAD awards, mentored career development awards).

Two types of postdoctoral fellows are typically selected. The first type has a PhD (with or without MD) and a demonstrated strength in research methodology and statistics within their field of expertise. They focus on learning how to apply these skills to alcohol research within a developmental framework. In general, these fellows have doctorates in fields such as psychology, epidemiology, sociology, or anthropology. They may take courses in development, advanced statistics, or behavioral and psychopharmacological research.

The second type of postdoctoral fellow is a physician without substantial research training. These fellows take methodological courses and may choose to earn a master’s degree in Public Health (MPH) during their training program. A postdoctoral fellow who opts for an MPH degree might follow a course sequence like the one shown in Table C.

Table C. Sample MPH course sequence
 Year One: Fall Term
EPID 2110 Principles of Epidemiology
BIOS 2041 Intro to Statistical Methods I
BCHS 2509 Social Behavioral Science
PUBHLT 2015 Public Health Biology
Year Two: Fall Term
EPID 2160 Epi of Infectious Diseases
EPID 2170 Chronic Disease Epi
EPID 2181 Design of Clinical Trials
EPID 2310 Psychiatric Epidemiology
 Spring Term
EPID 2180 Epidemiological Methods I
BIOS 2042 Intro to Statistical Methods II
EOH 2013 Environmental Health Disease
HPM 2001 Health Policy and Management
Spring Term
EPID 2400 Psychosocial Factors in Disease
PUBHLT 2016 Capstone Course: Problem
Solving in Public Health

An additional option for research training is provided by the Institute for Clinical Research (ICRE) at the University of Pittsburgh, which has developed customized degree programs and courses that emphasize the multidisciplinary nature of clinical and translational research to meet the needs of biomedical researchers. For example, trainees can pursue a Certificate in Clinical Research that provides them with skills required by clinical investigators, such as an understanding of research design, epidemiologic methods, biostatistics, outcome measurement, and ethical and regulatory principles of research involving human subjects. This Certificate Program is an excellent option for MD fellows.

All DART fellows are required to attend the Career and Research Development (CARD) Seminar. Trainees participate in weekly didactic and writing sessions. Didactic sessions address research conduct topics such as mentor/mentee relationships, scientific writing, the NIH review process, and observing a mock IRG grant review. There are also two 8-week “Writing Block” sessions, in which trainees submit drafts of their developing grant proposals for peer and faculty review. CARD Seminar participation also facilitates postdoctoral networking within the Department, as well as provides peer support.

Trainees are also required to participate in the WPIC Research Day, an annual oral and poster presentation day for psychiatric residents, research fellows, and junior faculty, during which trainees present their work to a multidisciplinary audience of physicians, other clinicians, and basic and applied researchers. They also participate in small group sessions facilitated by a faculty member on topics related to career development and novel strategies for research.

Additional courses that are relevant to DART trainees are described below. These courses are recommended depending on the specific fellow’s background and area of interest. The Alcohol Use and Abuse course, offered in the Psychology Department by one of our training faculty, Dr. Sayette, is required of all trainees with no previous alcohol background. These offerings highlight the personalized nature of the DART training.

EPID 2310 Psychiatric Epidemiology reviews methodological approaches in psychiatric epidemiology and the epidemiology of specific adult psychiatric disorders including Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders.

EPID 2340 Pediatric Epidemiology reviews physical, psychiatric, and developmental disorders in children and adolescents and the risk and causal factors involved in pediatric disorders. Special attention is given to developmental and methodological issues.

EPID 2400 Psychosocial Factors in Disease reviews epidemiological and psychological methods of studying behavioral factors as risk factors in selected diseases. Emphasis is on current public health problems and theoretical issues under debate in the field.

PSYCH 3245 Addictive Behaviors – Alcohol Use and Abuse examines research on alcohol use and abuse. A guiding principle is that alcoholism is a heterogeneous disorder that is multiply determined. Topics range from acute alcohol effects in social drinkers to issues of prevention, assessment, and treatment.

PSYCH 2565 Introduction to Behavioral Pharmacology aims to increase understanding of environmental factors that promote drug use and alter the physiological and behavioral effects of many drugs. Topics include drug reinforcement, drug discrimination, and conditioned drug effects.

PSYCH ED 3486: Structural Equation Modeling in Education covers techniques associated with SEM, including multiple regression, path diagrams, classical path analysis, and confirmatory factor analysis