This is a competing renewal of a five-year Institutional NRSA application for the support of predoctoral students in the interdepartmental Graduate Program in Neuroscience at Emory University. A fundamental strength of this program is the broad interdisciplinary training provided in a wide spectrum of neurobiological issues spanning several basic and clinical neuroscience-related disciplines. Because of the significant growth in highly qualified applicants to this program during the past funding period, the Emory Neuroscience program seeks support for 10 students per year in this renewal. A total of 84 PhD students (+ 20 new recruits for fall 2010) are enrolled in this program, which has consistently attracted a large and very high quality applicant pool. The program has been extremely successful in enrolling outstanding underrepresented minority (URM) students during the past 5 years. Fifteen percent of the current pool of students in the program are from URM ethnic groups. An Executive Committee representing the 115 (100 on this grant) faculty from 23 departments and the Yerkes National Primate Research Center administers the program. This committee is headed by the Director, who oversees all aspects of program operation, two Directors of Graduate Studies, who monitor student progress, and the Director of Admissions, who is in charge of recruitment of new students in the program. The laboratory space and core facilities available for neuroscience research at Emory have grown substantially during the past funding period. Students in the program receive a broad curriculum of molecular, cellular and systems neuroscience courses in their first two years. A required hypothesis design and grant writing course helps students prepare their thesis proposal (with oral defense) in the form of an NRSA predoctoral fellowship application. They are also required to participate in 3 laboratory rotations before they pick their advisor (usually at the beginning of year 2). Almost 40% of students are successful in competing for national awards after their third year of training. A wide variety of elective courses ranging from Basic Mechanisms of Neurological Diseases, Brain imaging and Computational Neuroscience are available to advanced trainees. Finally, students actively participate in various seminar series and receive significant training in teaching, neuroethics and scholar integrity.
This proposal is a competing renewal to support the training of ten pre-doctoral students enrolled in the PhD graduate neuroscience program at Emory University during years 1 or 2 of training. The interdisciplinary Emory neuroscience program comprises a total of 96 training faculty and 84 PhD students involved in neuroscience research that cuts across a wide array of disciplines that range from the understanding of basic neural communication to the treatment of complex neurological and psychiatric disorders. The Emory neuroscience program has reached a high level of success in attracting the most talented students in the country and over the world to apply for admission in this program. The pool of applicants has increased by more than 50% over the past five years, while maintaining very high standards of academic and research excellence. This dramatic growth of the applicant pool combined with the continued raise in the number of well-funded neuroscience faculty serve as the main basis to justify an increase of 4 trainees/year being supported by this training grant during the next funding period.
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