A provocative article entitled "Neurosurgery May Die" appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, discussing the potential fall in growth and innovation within neurosurgery due to a decrease in time and motivation for research activities. Although this fear was not immediately realized, scholarly activities by neurosurgeons have become increasingly vulnerable given the current demands of academic medicine - the increasing time requirements for clinical work at the expense of academic pursuits. Thus, the goal of the proposed UCLA Neurosurgery Research Education Program is to train neurosurgery residents in either basic or clinical science research through direct investigative study, oral/written scientific presentation, and intensive mentored career development. The structure of the training program incorporates two tiers of mentoring, with a culmination in the production of career development grant application (K-award) in the final year of the residency for each trainee. This training program is supported by an excellent institutional environment for neuroscience research and education in the UCLA Departments of Neurosurgery, Neuropathology, and Neuroradiology, as well as strong collaborations with faculty members within the Department of Neurology's research education program. The UCLA Department of Neurosurgery is within the top five NIH-funded neurosurgery departments in the nation, and has a significant depth and breadth of clinical and basic research faculty with diverse and well-funded subspecialty programs. The residency program has a strong track record of training many academic neurosurgeons over the past 20 years. The proposed Neurosurgery Research Education Program leverages our past educational experiences and the strong neuroscience community at UCLA in order to develop a new and distinct research training track specifically for neurosurgeons who are inclined to pursue academic careers as independent researchers, with the overall long-term goal to ensure that highly-trained neurosurgeon-scientists will be available to make future advances that will lead to a reduction in the burden of neurological diseases.
There is a critical need for additional well-trained neurosurgeon-scientists to conduct basic, clinical, and translational research that could potentially lead to the treatment and cure of neurological disorders. The immediate goal of the proposed UCLA Neurosurgery Research Education Program is to train neurosurgery residents/fellows in either basic or clinical science research, so as to foster their academic success and development into independent physician-scientists who can further our understanding of the mechanisms, etiology, and treatment of neurological diseases.
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