The 2008 National Advisory Mental Health Council Workgroup on Research Training Report stated "It is widely believed that MD/PhD investigators bring a unique perspective to their research programs because of the blend of clinical and research perspectives honed through graduate and medical education, residency and fellowship. In addition, MD/PhD investigators may be well-trained for translational research careers." (p10) The fields of neuroscience and genetics have developed such depth in t erms of knowledge base, research strategies and research techniques that PhD training (or its equivalent) may be a necessity for effective translational research and obtaining research funding. Unfortunately, the number of psychiatrist MD/PhD researchers is small. The NIH and NIMH substantially support Medical Scientist Training Programs and individual MD/PhD students, and have done so over many years. However, of those who train in MD/PhD programs only 5 -6% choose psychiatry training, and not all of those choose research careers after completing residency. In addition, the established method of combined MD/PhD training is inefficient, in that the period of intense research and PhD completion is followed by many years of clinical training. Thus there is a long separation from research, leading to a decline in research skills, distance from the knowledge base, and a need to retrain after residency. This results in few young investigators applying for R01 Awards. New models for training translational researchers are needed, and we propose a creative and innovative program for the production of superbly trained MD/PhD psychiatrist -researchers. The goal is to offer those individuals who, at the end of medical school, are ready to commit both to psychiatry and research, a training opportunity that will simultaneously promote both their clinical and research abilities. The program will integrate their clinical training with their PhD training, and their Ph research with post-residency research. The excellence of both clinical and research training at Mount Sinai, in addition to excellent financial incentives, make it very likely that excellent applicants will be attracted to the program.
Psychiatric disorders are widely prevalent and major contributors to long-term social and occupational dysfunction, including poverty, homelessness, suicide and substance abuse, as well as chronic misery, confusion and family burden. It is known that these disorders are caused by changes in the brain, but the specific changes are not known, and this information is necessary to provide better treatments and methods of prevention. This project proposes to train psychiatrists to do cutting-edge brain research, so that they can discover the specific brain abnormalities that cause mental disorders.