This application is for the first recompetition of the Interdisciplinary Research Fellowship in NeuroAIDS (IRFN), affiliated with the HIV Neurobehavioral Research Programs (HNRP) at the University of California San Diego (UCSD). The impetus for this educational program is driven by the idea that our future success in tackling the complex clinical disorders encountered in neuroAIDS depends on the availability of clinically-oriented researchers with training across relevant research disciplines. To this end, we have followed an interdisciplinary model of research training aimed at bridging the gaps left by single discipline approaches. Our proposed program will function as a neuroAIDS-themed Special Institute emphasizing interdisciplinary and translational neuroAIDS research through three main programmatic components: an academic didactic program, a research component, and close mentoring by experts in the field, making available the talents of preclinical and clinically oriented neuroAIDS researchers at UCSD and the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute. The IRFN provides a clear progression for each fellow toward independence in order to consolidate their future success. Clinically trained individuals will be educated to approach neuroAIDS research questions from an interdisciplinary and translational perspective with potential clinical applications as an essential end point of their work. Additionally, in this renewal, we plan to serve our translational goals by piloting a clinical training component for basic neuroscientists seeking to move into clinical neuroAIDS research. The research experiences of IRFN fellows will be in the laboratories of high-caliber, internationally recognized neuroAIDS researchers. The program features: (1) outstanding faculty who have a long history of mentoring researchers to become independent investigators, (2) research experiences that are tailored to each fellow's needs including access to external experts in their laboratories or invited onto campus, (3) both fixed and flexible didactic experiences, and (4) active evaluation and oversight of the program. The evaluation will include setting clear goals and outcomes, and the performance of the IRFN will be reviewed internally and by an external panel so as to constantly improve the program. Innovations for this the renewal period include (1) Pilot training module on NeuroAIDS Clinical Literacy for neurobiologists and neuroscientists;(2) Electives Program to enhance trainee choice and individuation;(3) Expanded training resources via leveraging expertise of the NIMH neuroAIDS centers at Johns Hopkins University and University of Nebraska;(4) Mini-placements in collaborating laboratories;and (5) Expansion of web-based communications and organization.
Complex clinical questions in neuroAIDS require interdisciplinary and translational research approaches. Our proposed educational program that includes didactics and close mentoring is designed to augment the number of clinical researchers equipped to apply such approaches to emerging challenges in neuroAIDS in the 21st Century.
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