Substance Abuse and Violence Initiative (savi)




Дата канвертавання26.04.2016
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Substance Abuse and Violence Initiative (SAVI)

Studying the Nexus of Major Public Health Threats


Substance abuse and violence are serious public health concerns that often co-occur and are associated with severe negative consequences for individuals and society. Consider the following examples:

  • Alcohol and illicit drug use are the strongest predictors of domestic violence.

  • Adults who were abused as children are more likely to drink to excess and use drugs.

  • Traumatic brain injuries among veterans are a risk factor for chronic substance abuse..

  • Rapists often engage in substance abuse before or during the sexual offense and may use alcohol and drugs as a way of luring and manipulating their victims.



These examples illustrate the wide-ranging associations between substance use and violence. Unfortunately, research on these topics has developed primarily along separate lines, with investigators focusing on one or the other problem, but not both. Nevertheless, an interdisciplinary, translational approach involving researchers from both fields using multiple methodologies holds great promise for advancing our understanding of these interrelated problems. Researchers at UNL are in a unique position to pursue just this sort of interdisciplinary effort. The Substance Abuse and Violence Initiative (SAVI) brings together scholars from the Department of Psychology and other disciplines (engineering, sociology, criminology, management, medicine, public health) to address the intersection of substance abuse and violence. The group includes content experts capable of collaborating to study substance abuse and violence in a translational fashion ranging from animal and computer models to community-level interventions. SAVI also includes individuals with specialized expertise in tools and methodologies that can be used to study substance abuse and violence at multiple levels of analysis (e.g., neuroimaging, human genetics, visual attention, analysis of longitudinal data). SAVI compliments existing research centers in substance abuse and violence, but its focus on bridging these traditionally “siloed” areas is unique in the Big Ten/CIC and nationally. The group has established initial momentum through meetings at Mahoney State Park (twice) and the Omaha VA, sponsored by the Substance Abuse Research Cluster (SARC). These meetings were well attended (18-23 people from UNL, UNO, UNMC, Omaha VA) and have spawned several interdisciplinary projects. A cluster grant is proposed to advance the collaboration among members of this group and, ultimately, to position SAVI to compete for large-scale federal funding and potentially center status.

SAVI has strategized a five-year plan to achieve these goals, which includes:



Short-term objectives (years 1-2):

  1. Facilitate continued interaction between members of the SAVI group to generate ideas for interdisciplinary research efforts.

  2. Form additional research “pods” to conduct translational, interdisciplinary studies related to substance abuse and violence.

  3. Establish a track record of successful research collaboration, as evidenced by national and international conference presentations and peer-reviewed publications.

  4. Submit proposals for external funding.

Long-term objectives (years 3-5):

  1. Continue above activities to further build research capacity.

  2. Establish a postdoctoral research training program funded by NIH to produce scientists trained to conduct systematic research at the intersection of substance abuse and violence.

  3. Recruit new faculty investigators to UNL to further bridge existing research strengths and further synergize work in the areas of substance abuse and violence.

  4. Develop infrastructure supports and services to assist researchers in the development of grant applications and in their post-award management when funded.


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