About PAMT

NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse

The Prevention and Methodology Training Program (PAMT; T32 DA017629) has been funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) since 2005. PAMT makes a unique contribution to the nation’s training of prevention scientists and to the NIDA portfolio by fostering careers that focus on integrating drug abuse/HIV prevention science and innovative methodology. 

The main objective of PAMT is to produce two types of well-trained scientists: (1) drug abuse prevention scientists who apply the most appropriate methodology in their research, are comfortable with advanced methods, and have the background and interest to engage in career-long learning as methodology evolves and expands; and (2) methodologists who work on improving and disseminating methods for use in drug abuse prevention research, and who understand and are committed to prevention so that their methodological work truly enhances this field. We are able to achieve this objective through a close collaboration between two well-established and vibrant research centers at Penn State: the Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center and the Methodology Center.

General Information

The prevention field has a pressing need for two types of well-trained scientists: prevention scientists and methodologists. PAMT was established to train researchers in the development and application of cutting-edge research methods in the design and evaluation of drug abuse, HIV, and related prevention programs for children, adolescents, families, and communities. A goal of PAMT is to combine two existing “research cultures”—preventionists and methodologists—into one fluid community of preventionists who are comfortable with cutting-edge methods and of methodologists who consider themselves prevention scientists. These linkages, combined with the strengths of the Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center and the Methodology Center in drug abuse etiology, methods, statistics, evaluation, and program development and testing, provide a high-quality training environment for the development of future leaders of multidisciplinary research teams.

PAMT is designed for junior researchers who are interested in launching a successful academic or research career by developing a research program with an integrated, dual focus on prevention science and quantitative methods.

The Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center includes researchers with PhDs in developmental psychology, biobehavioral health, human development and family studies, kinesiology, sociology, clinical psychology, education policy, and family and child ecology. The Methodology Center includes researchers with PhDs in human development and family studies, statistics, quantitative psychology, epidemiology, communication arts and sciences, computer science, and electrical engineering. Both centers are open to researchers from other disciplines.

PAMT is a joint endeavor of two research centers at Penn State: the Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center and the Methodology Center. The training grant is directed by Dr. Diana Fishbein from the Bennett Pierce Prevention Center, and Drs. Linda Collins and Bethany Bray from the Methodology Center.

PAMT is funded by a training grant (T32 DA017629; PI: Collins) from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for developing the careers of promising junior researchers. 

Application Process

Instructions can be found on the PAMT applicants page. Questions are welcome at any time and can be addressed either to prospective mentors or to Dr. Bethany Bray at bcbray@psu.edu.

Post-doctoral fellows: Applications are reviewed periodically; see the PAMT homepage or the PAMT applicants page for the next review dates. 

Pre-doctoral fellows: Applications are due in early March and selection of new pre-doctoral trainees occurs in late March; selected pre-doctoral trainees start their fellowships on July 1st.

Post-doctoral fellows: You are strongly encouraged to contact prospective mentors before applying to verify that they are taking on additional trainees and to discuss your application. Be sure to allow sufficient time as you prepare the application; it can take several weeks to arrange mentorships. See the list of faculty members affiliated with the program for information about faculty participating in the program. Application instructions can be found on the PAMT applicants page. Applications are reviewed periodically; see the PAMT homepage or the PAMT applicants page for the next review dates. After you have applied, you may be invited to Penn State to present your research and meet faculty and current trainees.

Pre-doctoral fellows: You are strongly encouraged to contact prospective mentors before applying to verify that they are taking on additional trainees and to discuss your application. Be sure to allow sufficient time as you prepare the application; it can take several weeks to arrange mentorships. See the list of faculty members affiliated with the program for information about faculty participating in the program. Application instructions can be found on the PAMT applicants page. Applications are due in early March and selection of new pre-doctoral trainees occurs in late March; selected pre-doctoral trainees start their fellowships on July 1st.

Mentors must be selected from the prevention and methodology affiliated faculty lists. Questions about specific Penn State faculty members can be addressed to Dr. Bethany Bray at bcbray@psu.edu.

Pre-Doctoral Information

Graduate students typically apply for PAMT pre-doctoral fellowships during their second or third year of doctoral studies. These fellowships are available to Penn State graduate students from any department that has at least one faculty member affiliated with the program. Recruitment of applicants begins with a general announcement about the availability of pre-doctoral fellowships; this announcement is sent out in January to all affiliated faculty members and relevant academic departments. Applications are due in early March and selection of new pre-doctoral trainees occurs in late March; selected pre-doctoral trainees start their fellowships on July 1st. 

Because graduate students are already here at Penn State, this website is not meant to be their primary source of information about PAMT. Interested graduate students are encouraged to speak to any of the faculty members affiliated with the program or to contact Dr. Bethany Bray at bcbray@psu.edu with any questions they may have. 

Post-Doctoral Information

To be eligible, an individual must have completed all requirements for the PhD at the time the fellowship is to start. Trainees must be citizens or non-citizen nationals of the United States or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residency at the time of appointment.

The backgrounds of incoming PAMT post-docs vary widely. What you have done to date matters less than what you plan to do in the future. In other words, if you are committed to establishing a career focusing on research that integrates prevention science and quantitative methods, you may be a good candidate even if you have no previous background in prevention.

We have found that some prior background and demonstrated interest in methodology is necessary for trainees to be successful in the PAMT post-doctoral fellows program. Most successful applicants have, at a minimum, taken several methodology electives during their graduate training.

PAMT could be a great post-doctoral experience for you. A career that focuses on the integration of methodological research and prevention research would be a shift in emphasis for you. It will require you to learn about prevention, and about behavioral science more generally. If you are interested in making this shift, a PAMT fellowship can help you to do it effectively and enjoyably.

We are looking for trainees who wish to establish a line of research that has both a prevention and a methodology focus. Although some of our trainees may need to improve their methodological background in certain areas to accomplish this, remedial education in methodology per se is not a goal of the PAMT program. Thus, PAMT is probably not for you.

Feel free to contact directly the faculty you would like to work with, and inquire about whether they have any entry-level positions funded by sources other than PAMT.

  • Each PAMT post-doc has two mentors: one in prevention and one in methodology.
  • Well-established senior investigators are available for mentoring.
  • Trainees are immediately involved in ongoing projects with opportunities to publish.
  • Trainees are encouraged to develop their own lines of research, are mentored on how to do so, and have protected time to make progress.
  • Trainees are strongly encouraged to write a grant proposal; training and mentoring in this area are provided.
  • Penn State is the location of many exciting research projects in both prevention and methodology.
  • Both the Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center and the Methodology Center are interdisciplinary environments with substantial NIH funding.
  • There are special professional development activities for post-docs, including a grant proposal writing “boot camp” in the Spring semester.

PAMT post-docs are usually two years long. The second year is contingent upon a successful first year.

We have four post-doctoral slots, so sometimes we have no openings. We encourage you to contact directly the faculty you would like to work with, and inquire about whether they have any entry-level positions funded by sources other than the PAMT program.

The PAMT program offers many opportunities for collaboration and training. Post-docs participate in several regular groups and meetings to encourage their professional growth and the free exchange of ideas. Groups that postdocs join include

  • bi-weekly PAMT meetings to discuss research progress,
  • bi-weekly professional development meetings to plan for the launch of an independent research career,
  • monthly Methodology Center goal-setting meetings to learn about and track progress of research, and
  • Prevention Research Center and Methodology Center brown bags seminars to learn about and explore other research in the field.

Early on, PAMT post-docs establish a training plan, and then they have regular meetings with mentors to discuss progress and solicit advice. PAMT post-docs also attend annual meetings of the Society for Prevention Research (SPR) to present, learn, and network. 

A post-doctoral trainee submits several articles to high-level peer-reviewed journals, writes a grant proposal and submits it before the end of his/her post-doc, and present at professional conferences. Mentoring is provided in all of these areas so that trainees are positioned for success in the next phase of their planned careers.

Each PAMT post-doc has a prevention mentor and a methodology mentor. Prospective post-docs identify their mentors—at least one from prevention and one from methodology—before applying to the program. Consult the list of affiliated faculty members for mentors' research interests, links to their websites, and contact information. Applicants who are invited to visit Penn State will have the opportunity to meet with their prospective mentors at that time. Upon acceptance to the program, the two mentors, the post-doc, and the Associate Training Director work together to map out a program of professional development for the post-doc, and thereafter discuss progress at regularly scheduled meetings.

Stipends are fixed by NIH and are based on the fiscal year during which an individual's appointment starts. Visit the NIH training funding page (for 2017) for more information.

Post-docs are eligible to participate in Penn State’s medical, vision and dental health insurance plans, and age-graded life insurance plans. Further benefits information is available from Penn State's Office of Postdoctoral Affairs on their Benefits for Postdoctoral Scholars webpage.