University of Vermont

College of Medicine

Vermont Center on Behavior and Health

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Research Training

The VCBH offers a well-established, multi-faceted training program, supported by a COBRE center grant, a TCORS center grant, a T32 training grant, and research grants from the National Institutes on Health and the Food and Drug Administration. Continuously funded since 1990 by an Institutional Training Grant (PI: Stephen Higgins, PhD) from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the VCBH is home to an excellent predoctoral and postdoctoral training program in substance abuse and health behavior research.


Trainees are typically experimental and clinical psychologists who receive individual mentoring by productive, NIH-supported independent scientists, seminars and courses in substance abuse and related fields of behavioral economics and behavioral pharmacology, along with training in grant writing and related aspects of career development. The vast majority (96%) of graduates of our training program obtain employment in research and scholarship and have been successful in establishing themselves as independent investigators. Indeed, the average age at receipt of the first R01 among our trainees over the 10-year period covering 2000-2010 was 34.6 years (33-37 yrs), which fell well below the 2004 NIH-average of 41.7 years for Ph.D.'s (the most recent NIH data available).

The VCBH training program currently supports eight predoctoral and eight postdoctoral fellowships:

Predoctoral Fellowships


Predoctoral fellows typically are full-time graduate students in the UVM Department of Psychology. The VCBH is fully integrated with the Departments of Psychology, with faculty holding joint appointments in the Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology.  The training period is 4 - 5 years resulting in a Ph.D. in general/experimental or clinical psychology.  Applicants must have completed their undergraduate degree in psychology, behavior analysis, or a related discipline and be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Trainees are selected on the basis of scholastic record and commitment to a career in substance abuse research. Stipend, tuition, health care coverage, and travel funds provided by NIH Institutional Training Awards.

Postdoctoral Fellowships


Postdoctoral fellows conduct independent research under the mentorship of a VCBH faculty member at one or more of the sites that make up the VCBH (see Resources).  The training period is 2 - 3 years. Applicants must have completed doctoral training in psychology, behavior analysis, or a related discipline and be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Trainees are selected on the basis of scholastic record and commitment to a career in substance abuse research. Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience (PGY 1-7) and supported by NIH Institutional Training Awards.

Junior Faculty


An overarching priority of our NIGMS COBRE project is to support the selection and career development of excellent UVM junior faculty. We support and mentor a maximum of 5 junior faculty projects at any one time. The COBRE junior faculty, referred to as Project Directors (PDs), receive generous research funding and mentoring by senior faculty with the overarching goal of having them succeed in obtaining their first NIH independent research grant (R01 or equivalent). Our current PDs and their research topics are:

  • Robert Althoff, MD, PhD, Shared Mechanisms in Child Dysregulation, Adult Psychopathology, and Metabolic Disorders;
  • Diann Gaalema, PhD, Incentives to Improve Cardiac Rehabilitation Participation in Low-Income Patients;
  • Julie Phillips, MD, Incentives Targeting Gestational Weight Gain in Overweight/Obese Low-Income Women;
  • Kim Dittus, MD, PhD, Predictors of Weight Loss Success in Overweight Breast Cancer Survivors;
  • Brian Sprague, PhD, Behaviors, Chronic Disease, and Quality of Life After Ductal Carcinoma In Situ

The VCBH supports their training by providing (a) an Administrative Core that provides scientific leadership and a stimulating intellectual infrastructure (e.g., seminar series, annual national conference), a mentoring plan, fiscal management, and strategic planning for fiscal support beyond COBRE funding; (b) a Behavioral Economics and Intervention Sciences Core that supports intervention development and evaluation, econometric modeling of cost effectiveness, and the study of health-related decision making and its neurobiological underpinnings, and (c) a Collaboration, Dissemination, and Education Core to facilitate those key missions.


Last modified May 05 2016 12:09 PM