The University of Southern California Neuroscience Graduate Program (DSC NGP) and the House Ear Institute (HEI) together propose to establish a unique research training program for predoctoral, postdoctoral, and postgraduate physician-scientist scholars: the USC/HEI Hearing and Communication Neuroscience Training Program. The program brings together a broad spectrum of scientists to enhance inter-disciplinary communication, and offers the unique advantage of providing research training opportunities that bridge basic science with clinical hearing and communications applications. The program will further solidify the research and training interactions between scientists in the College of Letters Arts &Sciences, the Keck School of Medicine, the Viterbi School of Engineering at DSC, and HEI. The program will combine the strengths of an outstanding group of researchers focused on basic aspects of hearing and communication, the resources of the USC Graduate Program in Neuroscience and the HEI,and the expertise in clinical otologic excellence of the HEI. The rationale of this proposal is to engage predoctoral, postdoctoral, and physician-scientist trainees in a highly interactive and multidisciplinary training experience ranging from cell biology to cognitive neuroscience and linguistics that is unfettered by conventional departmental barriers, and actively facilitates their development as independent scientists. We propose four predoctoral and two postdoctoral scholars per year for a maximum of two years support for any one scholar. One of the postdoctoral scholars can be a physician-scientist recruited from the HEI Clinical Research Fellowship or the USC Otolaryngology Residency Program. Pre-doctoral trainees will typically join the program during the second year of their graduate training, whereas the level of seniority of post-doctoral trainees participating in the program will vary. All trainees will receive training in all aspects of hearing- and communication-related research and practical skills that will prepare them for careers in independently-funded research, education, and industry. The ability to expose trainees directly to both cutting-edge research in basic science as well as ongoing clinical research and applications is a major and unique strength of the program.
This proposal focuses on research and training that are directly relevant to speech and language disorders and communication disabilities in humans. This training program will help prepare a cadre of scientists to address fundamental questions pertaining to hearing and vocal communication. These individuals will not only advance our understanding of biologic and behavioral bases of a broad spectrum of auditory-vocal communication disorders, but will also generate innovative diagnostic and therapeutic applications.
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