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Boston, Massachusetts

VA Boston Healthcare System

The purpose of the Interprofessional Addiction Fellowship at the VA Boston Healthcare System is to train future generations of VA leaders to:  1) conduct innovative addiction-related research, 2) provide evidence-based clinical care for Veterans with substance use disorders and co-morbid conditions, and 3) provide leadership of programs or services that will benefit Veterans with addictions. 

Program Description

The Interprofessional Addiction Fellowship at VA Boston provides training experiences in research, management, and evidence-based clinical service delivery. Trainees spend 75% of time in research, management, and educational activities and up to 25% in direct service. Fellows can develop competencies in the conduct of scholarly research, provision of clinical services, and leadership of programs that impact services for Veterans with addictions. Fellows acquire knowledge and skills through implementation of an Individualized Learning Plan jointly developed by the fellows and mentors.

Research and Clinical Opportunities in Addiction

The Fellowship at VA Boston offers advanced training in multiple areas including:  1) research in treatment outcomes, basic biological sciences, psychopharmacology, and service delivery; 2) clinical mentorship across a range of sites including Substance Use and Trauma Recovery programs as well as specialized programs for women Veterans; and 3) supervised management experiences at different levels of the organization. The fellow joins an academically rich and vibrant training environment for health professionals in programs affiliated with Boston University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School. The VA Boston is also home to the National Center for PTSD, which is devoted to research in all aspects of traumatic stress including the interconnection with addictions.

Focal Areas

  • Development and evaluation of novel treatments for Substance Use Disorders and PTSD, including web and mobile applications
  • Changes in federal policy, best practices, and treatment outcomes for Opioid Use Disorder
  • Strategies for improving access to medications for addictions
  • Longitudinal analysis of co-occurring Substance Use Disorder and PTSD
  • Racial disparities in access to and retention in treatment for Substance Use Disorders
  • Impact of minority stress and trauma exposure on PTSD, substance use, and other mental health outcomes among LGBTQ Veterans

Application Process

  • Applicants should submit a letter of interest and CV, and three letters of reference. The letter of interest should describe the applicant’s interest in the program, experience relevant to application, and career goals.
  • Materials should be submitted electronically to
  • For further information about the Boston site, application process and deadlines, please contact Deborah Brief, Ph.D. (, 857-364-4689)

Physician Fellows:

  • U.S. citizen or possess a current visa suitable for participation in this paid educational activity
  • Completion of and ACGME accredited residency program
  • Full and unrestricted license to practice in the US or any of its territories
  • Board certified or eligible
  • If a graduate of a foreign medical school, ECFMG certification that is valid indefinitely

Psychology Fellows:

  • U.S. citizen
  • Completion of and APA-accredited doctorate in clinical or counseling psychology (or meeting APA criteria for re-specialization training)
  • Completion of an APA-accredited psychology internship

Deborah Brief, PhD

Dr. Deborah Brief is a licensed clinical psychologist and Director of Residential and Rehabilitation Services at the VA Boston Healthcare System where she manages the continuum of residential, outpatient addiction, and vocational services. Dr. Brief is also an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, Co-Director of the Interprofessional Addiction Fellowship program in VA Boston, and on the faculty of the Boston Psychology Internship and Postdoctoral Fellowship Training Programs. Dr. Brief completed her doctoral degree at the University of Illinois-Chicago and an NIAAA fellowship at the University of Washington before coming to the VA Boston in 1987. Her research interests have focused on developing psychosocial interventions for substance use disorders and treating co-morbidities including PTSD. Her latest research is focused on the development and evaluation of web and mobile based interventions for Veterans with problem drinking and PTSD symptoms.



Michael Dawes, M.D. is a Clinical Professor in Psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), Program Director for the BU-VA Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship, and staff psychiatrist at the VA Boston Healthcare System (VA BHS).  Prior to transitioning to VA BHS full time, he served for 3 years as Vice-Chair for Addiction Psychiatry at Boston Medical Center/BUSM (Department of Psychiatry).   Dr. Dawes earned his medical degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is board certified in Adult Psychiatry, Addiction Psychiatry, and Addiction Medicine, and has training and experience in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Dr. Dawes was PI on a Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and has been a PI and Site-PI on numerous clinical and prospective studies funded by the National Institutes of Health. He has experience designing and implementing quality improvement and systems redesign projects in the Veterans Healthcare Administration and served as a site-PI for a multi-site study, entitled: “A Multi-Faceted Intervention to Improve Alcohol Dependence Pharmacotherapy Access.” He is currently Co-PD on a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Addiction Medicine Fellowship grant, and trains BU-VA Addiction Psychiatry Fellows on how to provide collaborative care for persons with Substance Use Disorders and Co-occurring Mental Health Disorders (SUD/COD) in a Federally-Qualified Health Center. Dr. Dawes has mentored and supervised faculty as well as many residents, fellows, and other trainees with interests in Addiction Psychiatry, Addiction Medicine, and clinical research for populations with SUD/COD.  He is passionate about training fellows to do clinical research, including research and implementation science addressing access to treatment for individuals and populations with SUD/COD.



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