The USF UF STOMP Research Lab


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Opioid addiction, misuse and overdose is an ongoing and rapidly evolving public health crisis. More than two million Americans have OUD. Millions more misuse opioids, taking opioid medications longer or in higher doses than prescribed. NIH prioritizes research that can prevent and treat opioid misuse and addiction, and that will help people with OUDs achieve and maintain a meaningful and sustained recovery. Effective prevention and treatment requires diverse perspectives and the limited diversity in public health and substance abuse research hinders the current efforts to produce comprehensive and innovative solutions. Cultural homogeneity among opioid misuse researchers also contributes to a general deficit in knowledge of how the crisis impacts youth from minority and disadvantaged communities.

To address these issues, Dr. Micah E. Johnson founded and leads a trans-disciplinary research laboratory that focuses on opioid misuse and opioid use disorder (OUD) that is comprised almost entirely of undergraduate and pre-doctoral investigators from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds. The laboratory is entitled “The Study of Teen Opioid Misuse and Prevention (STOMP) Research Lab: Gifted Future Investigators from Underrepresented and Disadvantaged Backgrounds”, or abbreviated STOMP. The purpose of STOMP is to recruit and train the next generation of opioid use epidemiologists. We use statistical analyses and qualitative tools to investigate the prevalence, patterns, predictors and preventions of teen opioid misuse. We will leverage the cutting-edge mentoring practices to train students to be highly productive and aggressively seek funding opportunities to advance their research. STOMP is an opportunity for students to transition into a T32 pre-doctoral or postdoctoral position in the UF Substance Abuse Training Center in Public Health, or another NIDA T32 program.

Goal: The primary goal of STOMP is to recruit and train future investigators from diverse backgrounds who will aid in developing innovative science and solutions to address the opioid crisis. To achieve this goal, our aims are to:

AIM 1: provide supplemental support and professional development for the next generation of drug abuse researchers from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds. The outcome will be a diverse pool of highly qualified undergraduate and pre-doctoral students who are on track to be opioid misuse researchers. The impact of this outcome will address the general deficit of diversity in public health as well as strengthen the workforce with highly qualified future researchers focused on addressing the opioid crisis in the US.

AIM 2: provide research and professional opportunities to publish and write grants. The outcome will be an increase in publications and grant submissions among underrepresented and disadvantaged undergraduate and pre-doctoral students. The impact of this outcome will serve to reduce the racial publication and grant gap in academia.

The study of teen opioid misuse and prevention research lab. We study health disparities, with a focus on the opioid crisis. Our primary objective is to conduct and publish empirical research. We also conduct research that is not related to opioids, but work on opioids will be highly valued. The UF branch of the STOMP Lab is held at Health Street on archer near campus (Free parking!). The lab will meet there weekly. We try to make it as convenient as possible for all students.

It is a tiered-mentoring structure. Dr. Johnson works with pre-docs to mentor undergraduate researchers. The pre-docs will lead their own lab team. We are also interested in having each undergraduate mentor a high school student who is interested in a PhD. We can discuss this in more detail in lab.

The laboratory helps prepare students for success in any PhD program and enhance their credentials. We aim for students to publish at least one paper each year. Publications are highly valued in academia.

Dr. Johnson will do everything he can to help each student accomplish their professional goals.