This is an application for renewal of support for a successful training program for students admitted to the UCSF graduate program in Neuroscience. The goal of this training program will continue to be to provide the best possible education and training of students in concepts and methods of modern neuroscience in order to give these students the skills, knowledge and enthusiasm needed for them to make creative contributions to Neuroscience during their entire careers. The Neuroscience Program currently has 72 faculty members in 18 different basic science and clinical departments and affiliated institutes. Program membership is restricted to faculty who contribute to program activities and faculty memberships are periodically reviewed. Virtually all areas of neuroscience are encompassed by the research interests of our faculty who have received numerous honors, including Nobel and other highly prestigious prizes. Our faculty includes many members of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Over the past 3 decades this program has recruited many of the most able and imaginative students interested in Neuroscience. Many of these have now initiated or are well established in careers at leading American or international universities and elsewhere. Several of our older graduates already have careers of distinction recognized by prestigious awards, such as MacArthur and McKnight faculty awards. Our more recent graduates have received also prestigious awards, including Helen Hay Whitney postdoctoral scholarships, and Harold Weintraub and Donald B. Lindsley Awards for outstanding Ph.D. theses. During their first year, trainees will receive a strong foundation in modern neuroscience as well as scientific writing and oral presentation skills through an introductory 2-quarter-long core course, intensive mini- courses, a grant-writing workshop, and oral defense of a written minor proposal. The minicourses are sponsored in collaboration with other biomedical science graduate programs and are intended to stimulate creative theses at the interface of disciplines as well as provide training in how to efficiently identify the major obstacles to progress and opportunities in a new research area. The trainees will attend a weekly seminar series and weekly student-faculty journal club. They will also complete at least three laboratory rotations in more than one area of Neuroscience before choosing a thesis laboratory. The program introduces students to our many laboratories through faculty and advanced student/postdoc presentations at our annual retreat and a series of dinners for first year students with small groups of faculty. During their second year, students will complete a Scientific Ethics course, begin advanced literature-based special topics courses for 2nd year and more senior students, and continue attendance at seminars, journal clubs, and the annual retreat. They will also write and orally defend a thesis proposal in order to advance to candidacy. All trainees will receive comprehensive research training in the laboratory of their Ph.D. supervisor and this will be their major commitment after advancement to candidacy although they are expected to continue participating in program intellectual activities. Students meet no less than annually with their thesis committees and at least every six months with their thesis committee chair, who is not their research supervisor. Student progress is also supervised by a Student Progress Oversight Committee that reviews thesis committee reports. At every stage of their training, students have access to activities sponsored by the UCSF Graduate Education in Medical Science Program (GEMS) which is an HHMI and School of Medicine-funded program that sponsors courses and activities aimed at increasing the medical literacy and knowledge of graduate students. The UCSF Office of Career and Professional Development sponsors many workshops for our students to help them develop their leadership, time management, oral and written presentation and other skills. This office also sponsors many seminars and information sessions aimed at increasing the knowledge of our students about their future career options. This training grant has been the single most important pillar underlying our program's success over the past 30 years. This training grant is used to support students during their first and second years of study before they have advanced to candidacy and initiated full-time Ph.D. thesis research. Continued support is essential for us to continue to provide graduate students with the education they will need to become leaders in their field in the future.
The goal and mission of biomedical research, and NIH, is first to search for and discover fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and then to apply that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce the burdens of illness and disability. The goal of predoctoral training in Neuroscience at UCSF is to guide and educate future researchers who will make fundamental creative discoveries, develop innovative research strategies and apply their skills and knowledge as a basis for ultimately protecting and improving health. Additionally, this training is organized to promote the highest level of scientific integrity, public accountability, and social responsibility in the conduct of science. Because we are training students and fellows in Neuroscience, we will be focused ultimately on the causes, diagnosis, prevention, and cure of human developmental and behavioral disorders and neurodegenerative disease. This proposed training program will play an important role in educating students who will become our future biomedical researchers. Having a well-trained cadre of researchers is the principal means that we, as a nation, have for understanding and treating illnesses and disabilities of our own and the world's population.
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