The University of Washington (UW) has a long-standing history of commitment to research in the areas of normal and disordered hearing, speech, language and communication. In addition, it has an outstanding interdisciplinary community of investigators in all of the subdisciplines of basic neuroscience. At the intersection of these communities lies a diverse and highly productive group of investigators who study the fundamental neural mechanisms that underlie hearing and communication. One important mission of the auditory neuroscience community at UW is to mentor the trainees who will carry on this line of research and advance our knowledge of the field in the future. The Auditory Neuroscience Training Program, established in 2002, helps train the basic neuroscience researchers whose work will form the foundation for research in the clinical disciplines. It therefore complements the UW clinical training programs in Otolaryngology and in Speech and Hearing Sciences. The training experience at UW currently includes six predoctoral training slots since this is the area in which strong support during the early stages of training is most crucial, and three postdoctoral training positions for those transitioning to auditory neuroscience from other disciplines. Trainees participate in active research programs in neuroanatomy, development, genetics, cell and molecular biology, neuropharmacology, and electrophysiology of the peripheral and central auditory system as well as psychoacoustics, language perception and processing, and communication behavior. They also have the opportunity to combine research in more than one area through collaborative efforts. Through courses, journal clubs and retreats, program trainees are exposed to a wide range of research techniques, enabling them to conduct conceptually and technologically sophisticated research programs. Importantly, continued support through the training program should greatly enhance the ability of the UW to attract and retain high-caliber trainees from underrepresented groups and prepare them for future research careers in auditory neuroscience.
This proposal aims to support the training of the diverse next generation of researchers who will make fundamental discoveries related to hearing loss and dysfunction of communicative abilities. They will work toward applying those discoveries and developing them into safe and effective therapies for affected individuals. As a long-term research-training program, this effort will reap the rewards of its investments over decades of research advanements.
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