The University of Southern California (USC) and the House Research Institute (HRI) together have established a research training program for predoctoral, postdoctoral, and physician-scientist scholars: the USC/HRI Hearing and Communication Neuroscience (HCN) Training Program. The program brings together a broad spectrum of scientists to enhance inter-disciplinary communication, and offers the advantage of providing research training opportunities that bridge basic science with translational research and clinical hearing applications. The program serves to reinforce research and training interactions between scientists at HRI with scientists in the Dornsife College of Letters Arts &Sciences, the Keck School of Medicine, and the Viterbi School of Engineering at USC. The program combines the strengths of an outstanding group of researchers focused on basic aspects of hearing and vocal communication at both USC and HRI, the resources of USC graduate programs in Neuroscience, Psychology, and Linguistics, and the expertise in clinical otologic excellence of HRI. The rationale of this proposal is to engage predoctoral, postdoctoral, and physician- scientist trainees in a highly interactive and multi-disciplinary training experienc 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 have successfully filled all positions with predoctoral and postdoctoral scholars every year during the first four years of the grant. One of the postdoctoral scholars was a physician-scientist who also completed the House Neurotology Clinical Fellowship Program. Predoctoral trainees 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 varies. All trainees receive multi-disciplinary training in all aspects of hearing and communication neuroscience, as well as 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 strength of the program.
This proposal focuses on research and training that are directly relevant to neural mechanisms of 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 young scientists will not only advance our understanding of neural bases of a broad spectrum of auditory-vocal communication disorders, but will also generate innovative diagnostic and therapeutic applications.
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