This revised application, "Postdoctoral Research in Neurodevelopmental Disorders", is a request for five years of funding for the competing continuation of an NIH National Research Service Award (NRSA) Institutional Training Grant (T32). Recent advances in behavioral science, neuroscience, and molecular genetics have led to dramatic gains in our understanding of the pathogenesis of neurodevelopmental disorders. The purpose of this training program is to develop researchers with expertise in both the biological basis and clinical manifestations of neurodevelopmental disorders. This broad-based and integrated perspective will enable researchers to better relate across disciplines and will maximize the potential for major research advances in understanding the pathogenesis and treatment of these disorders. Ultimately, this training will better prepare researchers to interfac across disciplines and increase the number of well-prepared researchers to have a significant impact on the health-related research needs of the nation (i.e., the primary objective of the T32 program). The proposed postdoctoral training plan provides a variety of opportunities including: (1) mentored research training in specific methods, disorders, and underlying pathogenetic mechanisms;(2) a range of didactic experiences (including courses, seminars, and lectures) that integrate the study of clinical disorders, normal developmental processes, mechanisms of disease, and research methods;and, (3) clinical exposures to complement previous levels of clinical experience. Twenty Ph.D. or M.D. level trainees (four new trainees per year) will participate in this two year training program, over the five year period of this proposal. This proposal addresses the critical need for focused training opportunities beyond formal graduate programs by using the existing interdisciplinary research and administrative structure of the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities (CIDD). All faculty are members of the CIDD. The CIDD is a comprehensive program for services, education and research in developmental disabilities. Together with the excellent clinical and basic science resources of the University of North Carolina (UNC), the CIDD provides an ideal environment for integrating training in biological and behavioral research in neurodevelopmental disorders.
Individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, mental retardation and fetal alcohol syndrome, often have substantial impairments in functioning, and can require care throughout their lives, resulting in a substantial burden to affected individuals, their families and communities. The complexity of these conditions demand an integrated research strategy that cuts across traditional research boundaries between the behavioral and basic biological sciences;human and animal studies and laboratory conditions versus real world applications. In this post doctoral research training program in neurodevelopmental disorders we propose an integrated, diverse training program that will prepare researchers to interface across disciplines and increase the likelihood that thei efforts will have a significant positive impact on addressing this important health need.
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