CURE - PA Dept of Health - Emphasis on Behavioral and Molecular Aspects of Addiction

Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement - Collaborative initiative with Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.  Only Lincoln University students are eligible.


In 2001, the Pennsylvania Department of Health established the Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement (CURE) Program. This program provides research grants awarded for clinical, health services, and biomedical research. In 2011, Dr. Patricia Sue Grigson, along with Drs. Bonneau, Fang, Vrana/Freeman, and Levenson were awarded one of these prestigious grants for their proposal to investigate the behavioral and molecular factors surrounding heroin addiction and the use of depot naltrexone (a long acting opioid antagonist) to treat the disease. Built into the proposal is a collaboration with Lincoln University for two summer research interns to work alongside the investigators on this project, aiding in this preclinical research effort at the Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, PA.

The Problem. Opioid addiction continues to be a serious and growing problem associated with rising mortality. Dependence on either illegal or prescription opiates may negatively affect health, personal relationships, financial stability, and work performance. Additionally, dependence may contribute to criminal behavior, as well as to the risk of accidental injury, violent death, and suicide. Current treatments have serious limitations. Like other addictive and chronic illnesses, once opiate addiction develops, the course of the disease is generally marked by alternating periods of remission and relapse. Relapse comes with all of the health and social consequences cited above.

Lincoln University Students. We are accepting applications to participate in a summer research internship experience with Dr. Sue Grigson (behavior), Dr. Robert Levenson (brain protein assays), and Dr. Kent Vrana (genetic correlates).

Via participation in this project, students will be exposed to discovery science through a combination of concept strengthening and skill development obtained by hands-on experimentation. The internship will be strongly aligned with the Penn State College of Medicine Summer Undergraduate Research Internship Program (SURIP). To this end, along with performing independent research, students will attend all SURIP weekly seminars and prepare a poster describing their research project. The students will present the poster at the Research Forum during the last week of the program in early August. This initial research experience will be followed by continued exposure during the academic year to a variety of seminars and research forums, accompanied by a strong and extended mentorship relationship.

To qualify for the program, students must attend Lincoln University, be 18 years or older, show a genuine interest in research, have had appropriate course background, and must obtain strong letters of recommendation. The behavioral portion of the research requires students to handle and test laboratory rats daily, including some weekends. All applications will be reviewed by Dr. Robert Levenson, Professor of Pharmacology and co-Director of the PSU MD/PhD program, and Dr. Karen Baskerville, Assistant Professor of Biology at Lincoln University. Students will receive a stipend of $3000 for the 10-week summer internship, and will be provided with housing ($1000 in rent provided by program) on Campus at the Penn State Hershey College of Medicine. 


Apply to the Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement (CURE) Program. 

  • Faculty Mentors

CURE - Faculty Mentors


Kent Vrana Pharmacology
Sue Grigson Neural & Behavioral Sciences
Robert Levenson Pharmacology