The program began in 2006 and provides interdisciplinary training in behavioral and translational neuroscience research on intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Trainees enter the two-year program with research experience and a Ph.D. The fully integrated program is housed at the Children's Research Institute of Children's National Medical Center (CNMC) in Washington, D.C, which includes an NICHD-funded P30 Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC). The focus of this program will be on five areas of inquiry associated with IDDRC: autism, brain injury and regeneration, developmental brain abnormalities, and urea cycle disorders. This will be a multidisciplinary effort that draws on 20 faculty preceptors in the areas of neuroscience, neurobehavioral science and genetics from CNMC, George Washington University, Howard University Medical School and Georgetown University School of Medicine. CNMC continues to be particularly well positioned to lead this program, based on: i) its strengths in basic, translational and clinical research, and in mentorship in all the proposed areas of inquiry;ii) it established strong collaborations with all other institutions, and iii) its leading role in a numbe of NIH Center Grants focusing on conditions causing IDDs. The program currently funds four postdoctoral trainees annually. A unique aspect of the training will be that each area of inquiry will have genetic, neuroscience and neurobehavioral components, and each fellow will chose a mentor's laboratory that focuses on one of these areas, but fosters interdisciplinary training. The objectives of the program are to encourage trainees to develop as researchers in the field of IDDR and to stimulate greater participation of researchers in this area. Each trainee is carefully mentored through the program to ensure that he/she fully exploits the range of opportunities of the program. Seven out of nine trainees have completed the first cycle of the program. Some members of this early cohort are in faculty positions and have secured external funding. All trainees have published extensively and have an enduring commitment to IDDR. Two trainees are members of under-represented ethnic/racial groups.
The relevance of the postdoctoral T32 training program at CNMC is to train the next generation of scientists who will perform cutting edge research into issues of intellectual and developmental disabilities in childhood. While there are many opportunities to use molecular biology and behavioral sciences to advance treatment of these diseases, the technology is complex, labor intensive and based on a comprehensive understanding of current scientific advances. The T32 responds to this need by providing 2 years of training and experience under the direction of an experienced investigator-mentor.
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