This application requests funding for a NIH sponsored summer research experience (SRE) program for undergraduate students in areas of neuroscience relevant to the mission of the National Institute for Neurological Disease and Stroke (NINDS): stroke, traumatic brain injury, neurodegenerative disease, pain, and epilepsy. We plan to provide, for six students a year, a ten week long hands-on research experience at the laboratory bench, together with opportunities to interact with and observe clinicians in order to foster recognition of the relevance of neuroscience to human health and a commitment to translational research. We have identified pairs of committed basic science and clinical faculty who will co-mentor these students. The mentors conduct research relevant to NINDS in an environment that is well suited for translational research: UVM's university-wide Neuroscience Graduate Program (NGP) has over fifty actively participating faculty members supported by research core facilities that facilitate molecular/cellular investigations (Dr. Sheryl White, PhD, director) and an advanced imaging core (Mr. Todd Clason, director) funded by an NIGMS Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant. In addition, UVM is unusual in that the clinical facilities at Fletcher Allen Health Care (FAHC) are located adjacent to the undergraduate and medical campuses, which greatly facilitates the interaction of SRE students with their clinical mentors. We have extensive experience in providing a SRE program in basic neuroscience for the past ten years. We therefore have established expertise and the necessary infrastructure required for summer programs, including the recruitment and mentoring of students from under-represented minority backgrounds. The main goal of the current proposal is to secure funding for a highly diverse population of students interested in research related to neurological disease.
This program provides the opportunity for a highly diverse group of undergraduate students to become involved in laboratory research that is directly relevant to the understanding and treatment of neurological disease. The central goal is to foster the student's desire to continue such clinically relevant research in their future professional careers.