Declines in the numbers of physicians pursuing careers in clinical research have raised national concerns about an impending crisis in public health care. While numerous medical fields are affected, the problem in psychiatry is particularly acute, with projected shortages prompting a recent analysis of the problem by the Institute of Medicine. Ironically, shortages of psychiatrists pursuing patient-oriented research careers occur at a time when discoveries in the fields of genetics and neuroscience are having an unprecedented impact on the basic behavioral sciences. Translating such basic science insights into discoveries in the patient-care realm will be crucial for improving out understanding and treatment of several mental illnesses. The current R25 renewal is intended to further address the current crisis in mental health research education through several specific aims, aims that build upon prior successes of the original five-year award. These include 1) to extend opportunities for Integrated Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Training (IMPORT) into the very earliest (PG1) stages of clinical residency training (in addition to continuing prior PG2 experiences), 2) to significantly broaden these early experiences through a novel integrated (PG3) clinical/research outpatient year (expanding their preparation and enabling trainees to more fully take advantage of the subsequent (PG4) immersion year, and 3) to disseminate information about and experiences with the program to other training directors (through funded onsite visits) and through national forum of R25 program directors nationally (conducted in collaboration with NIMH). It is anticipated that the current program will play an important role in addressing the anticipated shortfalls in residents pursuing careers in patient-oriented research both directly (e.g., through increased identification, recruitment and retention of a cadre of young clinical psychiatric investigators), and indirectly, as a model / toolkit for other residency training programs across the country.
Fewer physicians are pursuing careers in clinical research, a worrisome trend for the public's future health. Such shortages are especially severe in psychiatry. Ironically, these shortages occur at a time when we know more about the brain and genetic basis of human behavior. The primary purpose of the current grant is to help reverse these trends by creating a program of research education that will encourage psychiatry residents to consider a research career and provide them with protected time during their training so that they can start a research career.
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