In its most recent research plan, the NHLBI's National Center for Sleep Disorders Research identified the need to train investigators as its highest priority. The Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine Program for Training in Sleep, Circadian and Respiratory Neurobiology, based at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, has been addressing this need since 1998 and has been modified to address the new challenges in our field. This program provides structured, comprehensive research training to prepare outstanding individuals for academic positions in the broad field of sleep science and sleep medicine. For each trainee, the training program consists of core required courses and activities, elective courses and activities, and an intensive research experience. Cross-disciplinary and translational research is a highlight of this program, and formal mentoring and tracking components are integral features. Intensive research training experiences are available across the breadth of sleep, circadian and respiratory neurobiology areas, including basic as well as clinical and translational research opportunities, with several program projects that span multiple laboratories and institutions. There are 15 Full Preceptors with extensive experience and demonstrated success at training pre- doctoral and post-doctoral fellows, well-funded research programs (training faculty have current research support totaling over $25 million of direct costs per year), and outstanding resources that trainees will utilize for research. In addition, we have 11 Associate Preceptors who also oversee our trainees, and are actively being trained to be our next generation of mentors. Our training record over the past decade reveals the success of our efforts to train leaders in academic sleep science. Of our pre- and post-doctoral trainees funded by this training grant over the last 10 years, >80% have remained in academic medicine (still in academic training or now in faculty positions). More than 40% of those still in academic medicine have already received external grant support as PI or Co-I with the remainder well on their way to independence. Funds are requested to support four pre-doctoral graduate students, three pre-doctoral short-term summer minority medical students and eight post-doctoral trainees. Based on our highly completive application process, we are confident these slots will be filled by outstanding future leaders. This formal program has grown and been refined over the decade since inception, and meets a nationally recognized need to increase the number of highly qualified investigators in sleep science and sleep medicine.
Sleep and circadian rhythm disorders disrupt the lives of 40 million people in the US alone. These disorders occur in all age groups and have a major impact on society. In 2011, the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR) emphasized the need to train highly qualified researchers in this field. Our NHLBI- supported Training Program in Sleep, Circadian and Respiratory Neurobiology remains focused on its mission of addressing this need, and continues to train a new generation of investigators who are already successfully tackling critical questions which will ultimately improve the lives of patients suffering from these conditions.
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