Understanding developmental processes related to risk for, onset of, and maintenance of mental illness is a central component of the NIMH strategic plan. A 2008 National Advisory Mental Health Council Workgroup has suggested that, if this goal is to be met, there was be substantial expansion of a new field-translational developmental neuroscience. Meeting these goals will require recruitment and training of a diverse group of students, with research training at multiple stages of development. This program focuses on developing a summer research experience for high quality undergraduate students who would otherwise have no access to research training. Specifically, this proposed program will focus on rural students attending rural community colleges, bringing them to a University medical school campus for research training. The Developmental Psychopathology and Psychobiology Research Group (DPRG) at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, has, for over 30 years, focused on research training for physicians, psychologists, and basic scientists for careers in translational developmental neuroscience. The DPRG, while housed in a Department of Psychiatry, is a multi-specialty, multi-departmental, and multi-institutional group that facilitates the critical concepts of collaboration and translational work. This proposal requests funding for a summer undergraduate research training component for 7 rural community college students per year to be embedded in a well-established research training effort that includes both nationally recruited students from 4- year institutions and local urban underserved students from our undergraduate university. The proposed program includes (a) seminars related both to research content areas as well as to career developing, (b) intensive research experiences, (c) participation in the dissemination of research results, and (d) training in the responsible conduct of research. The expected success of this program is based on the previous achievements of the DPRG training programs. There will be ongoing evaluation of the program including both student feedback and outcome assessment. This will include short (e.g student satisfaction), intermediate (behavior in the 2-3 years following involvement in the program), and long-term (application and acceptance into relevant graduate training programs) outcomes. A Senior Advisory Board will provide oversight for the program and ensure use of the outcome data for ongoing quality improvement of the program.
Understanding development, from conception through adulthood, is critical in expanding our understanding of mental illness, and will be vital for the evolving novel method for prevention, early recognition, and treatment of these illnesses. This program focuses on providing a summer research training experience for rural community college students with the goal of growing the number of future developmental translational neuroscience researchers.