The proposed research program seeks to establish a formal training paradigm to support USC neurosurgery residents in pursuit of successful academic careers as clinician-scientists. Physician-scientists are uniquely positioned to address many challenges at the forefront of medicine today. However, due to constraints on time, opportunity, and support, the number of neurosurgeons engaged in meaningful research has declined substantially. The USC R25 Neurosurgery Research Education Program provides the resources, mentorship, and support required to address this gap. The Neurosurgery Department has a strong track record of training productive academic neurosurgeons with active research programs. Recently, USC has recruited multiple transformative, senior faculty members within the neuroscience disciplines. Each of these Institute/ Center Directors has developed strong collaborations with the USC Neurosurgery department and is a mentor/ advisor on this training grant. The USC Neurosurgery Research Education Program incorporates thirty-five faculty members from seventeen different academic departments across the university. Mentors are clinicians and scientists with federal/ foundational funding and prior records notable for successful mentorship. A multi-tiered mentorship system affords each trainee a research supervisor for his/her direct investigative study, direction from a Neurosurgery Research Mentorship Committee and career development guidance from team of clinician-scientists within the candidate's chosen neurosurgery/ neuroscience subspecialty. An educational program is tailored towards developing successful clinician-scientists. This includes a short introductory seminar series and monthly, semi-structured, mentorship sessions with senior clinician-scientists involved with the R25 program. A Transition to Academic Faculty Committee provides sustained guidance and oversight to R25 graduates during their final years of residency training and initial junior faculty appointment. An External Advisory Committee of senior investigators (institutional and national) with strong training program experience assists in guiding the program. The over-arching aim of the proposal is to develop neurosurgeon-scientists capable of securing NIH K-, and ultimately R-, series funding to support independent research.
There is a need for well-trained neurosurgeons to perform basic science, translational, and clinical research focused on understanding and treating neurological diseases. This proposed training program aims to support the development/ education of neurosurgical residents who wish to pursue careers as clinician-scientists. The research training and mentorship will afford trainees the foundation to become independent investigators who are equipped to understand and treat pathologies of the brain and spinal cord.