The goal of the proposed short-term career award is to provide the applicant with formal training in the behavioral manifestations of early psychosis, which in turn, will advance the translational potential of the applicant's research utilizing anima models of schizophrenia. The proposed training includes regular meetings with mentors, coursework in schizophrenia, a mentor-guided literature review and attending schizophrenia- focused workshops and/or conferences. A critical component of the training plan is direct experience working with individuals at the early stages of the disorder, observation of diagnostic procedures and formal training on the administration of structured clinical interviews. In addition the proposed mentored-research plan will integrate standardized behavioral questionnaires and eye-tracking methodology to evaluate reciprocal social behavior and processing of salient social information in individuals with early psychosis. The research project will provide the applicant with a unique understanding of the challenges involved in evaluating social dysfunction in first episode and ultra-high risk individuals, tools that can be later adapted for use in future animal model studies. UC Davis is an ideal location for the implementation of this proposal, as it provides a rich research environment with strengths in clinical brain research and basic neuroscience, as well as access to an established early psychosis patient population. Successful completion of the proposed training and research plans will provide the applicant with the knowledge and skills to develop increasingly sophisticated animal models of neurodevelopmental disorders and provide the opportunity to establish an ongoing collaboration between animal models and clinical investigations of early psychosis.
Developing valid animal models of human disorders poses a major challenge for biomedical research. This is especially true for complex, behaviorally defined disorders, such as schizophrenia. The proposed short-term career award would provide the applicant with formal training in the behavioral manifestations of early psychosis, which in turn, will advance the translational potential of the applicant's research utilizing animal models f schizophrenia.