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March meeting covers translational research in addiction

SAN ANTONIO (Feb. 24, 2012) Young people starting out in addiction research will get a turbo-boost to their careers March 3-4 at an annual conference that puts them face to face with internationally recognized addiction researchers and clinicians.

The conference, "Behavior, Biology & Chemistry: Translational Research in Addiction," is organized by The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio. This year's event, the fourth annual, will take place at La Quinta Inn and Suites, 4431 Horizon Hill, San Antonio, Texas 78229.

"One goal of this meeting is to give young people a low-threshold opportunity to present their research to a world-class audience and to provide an intimate venue for scientists to discuss their research," said Charles France, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and psychiatry in the School of Medicine at the Health Science Center. "We typically have 150 attendees who come from as far away as Brazil and Japan. We work especially hard to recruit underrepresented minorities to this meeting."

NIH grant funds students' travel

A grant from the National Institutes of Health is paying full travel stipends for 26 young people from around the U.S. to attend and present their data at the meeting. The lineup of exceptional lecturers includes Phil Skolnick, Ph.D., D.Sc. (hon.), from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and David Nichols, Ph.D., an internationally recognized medicinal chemist and distinguished chair in pharmacology from Purdue University.

The meeting also cultivates new scientific initiatives in addiction and sparks directions for development of new medications and research tools. The plenary symposium session will be a panel discussion about a substance called corticotrophin-releasing factor and its impact on relapse to drug taking.

Additional information about program topics and speakers is at

San Antonio native excited to present before top leaders

Katie Serafine, finishing a Ph.D. at American University in Washington, D.C., is a San Antonio native who attended Communication Arts High School at Taft High School. She is jazzed to return home for her third year at the addiction research conference. "Last year it was extremely exciting for me to give a talk to people who are principal investigators in the field I'm entering," she said. "People listened to my work and gave feedback afterward."

Serafine met Dr. France at the conference and will join his lab as a postdoctoral fellow later this spring. "Having met him there, it was easy for me to feel comfortable contacting him when I was looking for a job," she said. "I will work on one of his existing grants in my first year and then hopefully have the opportunity to write my own grant in year two."

Serafine attended Norwich University in Vermont before graduate school at American. Her family lives in Helotes, a San Antonio suburb. They're very excited she is coming home to do her postdoctoral fellowship.

Interactions eliminate tunnel vision

"The other thing that really struck me about the conference that made me come back is that it forces groups of individuals to come together," she said. "You can get tunnel vision in the middle of a project because you're so focused on what you're doing. At international conferences you stay in your respective groups. A place like this, where you can interact with psychologists, pharmacologists and chemists, forces you to address certain angles of your work that you perhaps haven't considered. That's how good research continues through conversation and collaboration."


Contact: Will Sansom
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

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