The goal of our training program is to develop basic behavioral scientists with rigorous broad- based training in two biomedical sciences - neuroscience and genetics. To do this we developed a training program that focuses on the interface of psychology, neuroscience, and genetics. Trainees have been pre-doctoral students - 6 per year - with a strong interest in understanding human behavior from a biomedical perspective. The training program includes fairly equal participation from faculty in Washington University's Psychology, Neuroscience, and Genetics programs. The training program provides students with systematic exposure to the behavioral perspectives from psychology, integrated with biomedical perspectives from systems and computational neuroscience along with behavioral, molecular, statistical genetics, and genomics. The goal is to train young scientists who are able to apply concepts and methods from basic biomedical sciences to the study of behavioral phenomenon, such as memory, attention, decision making, and other cognitive functions, behavioral disorders, schizophrenia, alcoholism, aging, and problems with emotion regulation, and basic social phenomenon such as personality, attitudes, and social cognition. This training program provides benefits to trainees who are interested in research crossing traditional academic boundaries between psychology and two of the most important and exciting biomedical sciences - neuroscience and genetics. Educational opportunities of this kind are rare, and the unique nature of this training program makes our graduates attractive candidates for top post-doctoral or faculty positions in bio-behavioral programs at other universities. There are also benefits to the fields of neuroscience and genetics research, in which new lines of behavioral investigation are being opened (e.g., the Human Connectome Project, a large part of which is based at Washington University). Finally, through the process of recruiting and training students in research at the "interface of psychology, neuroscience, and genetics," the core faculty members of the training program also benefit because the program fosters collaborative research endeavors among the very diverse set of Washington University faculty participating in the training program. This competing renewal application requests support for another 5-year period of training, to continue pre-doctoral support at six trainees per year.
Our successful IPNG training program brings together new groups of researchers and laboratories to address behavioral questions using innovative combinations of biomedical approaches. Perhaps more importantly, it trains a new generation of mainly behavioral scientists who are able to overcome major hurdles in understanding how the brain controls mental function, how genes contribute to understanding the brain, and how both relate to dysfunction due to injury, disease, developmental perturbation, or degeneration. As can be seen from the bio-sketches of the mentors, most are conducting primary research on the neural or genetic underpinnings of specific diseases (e.g., alcoholism, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's), and most of the mentors from the biomedical sciences are physically located at the Washington University Medical School, so all pre-doctoral trainees have the opportunity to become involved in research directly related to human health and disease.
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