There is a growing need for physician-scientists to translate developments in basic neuroscience into improvement in clinical care. Obtaining funding for basic, clinical, and translational research, however, has become increasingly difficult for clinician investigators. Neurology trainees require protected research time and excellent mentoring during the formative stages of their careers to be able to compete successfully for mentored career (K awards) and other grants. The Columbia University Neurology Department has been a strong proponent of incorporating research into the training experience of residents. Since 1979, the department has had a T32 for a Clinical Neuroscience Training Program (T32 NS07155), which provided funding for PGY4 residents and first year fellows to learn research methodology and conduct research. Since 2002, we have had a Resident Research Mentorship Program that pairs residents with faculty mentors to work on a research project. These initiatives have been limited, however, by increasing clinical requirements for residents that preclude their participation in 2 year full time commitment required by the T32 mechanism, and by the absence of a systematic approach to providing a concentrated, contiguous block of dedicated research time to work on a research project. The present proposal describes a plan to formalize the resident research experience for at least 1 resident annually who is considered to have exceptional promise to become an independent basic, clinical, or translational neuroscience researcher. The focus will be on a practical, mentor-directed research experience, with limited classroom time, and residents who participate in this program will be optimally situated to compete for mentored career awards (K awards) at the completion of the 2 year training experience bridging residency and fellowship. Dr. Elkind, the Project Director, has independent NIH funding, as well as experience mentoring and reviewing grants, and the faculty of the program are all experienced basic, clinical, or translational researchers. The program will be evaluated primarily by the trainees'success in obtaining K08 and K23 awards, as well as by academic career placement and productivity in publications.
Neurological disorders, including stroke, dementia, epilepsy, and neurodegenerative conditions, are common and cause a significant burden of morbidity and mortality. Laboratory and clinical neuroscience have advanced markedly in recent years, and there is now a growing role for physician-scientists to translate developments in neuroscience into improvement in clinical care. Training young neurologists at a formative stage of their careers in research methods, and encouraging them to consider research as a career, will increase the number of committed, successful physician-scientists. This Research Education Program will provide talented neurology residents with the opportunity to develop research skills that have a high likelihood of reducing the burden of neurological disease.
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