The goal of this program is to prepare clinical psychologists, who are trained in university Departments of Psychology, for careers as clinical scientists in a variety of settings, including academic medical centers. Psychologists, who are well versed in psychological theory, experimental methodology, and quantitative skills, and committed to empirical approaches to clinical science, possess talents that are critically important for conducting clinical research. In this era, such research focuses on diverse areas of psychopathology (understood both as clinical syndromes and as transdiagnostic constructs and mechanisms) and requires multiple levels of analysis regardless of the specific phenomenon of interest. Nevertheless, additional preparation is needed to enable psychologists to work effectively with individuals with major psychiatric disorders;to collaborate with members of an interdisciplinary team, many of whom have medical backgrounds;and to compete successfully for independent research funding. In this competing renewal application, we propose to continue and refine the existing program that has become a successful model of an integrated three- year predoctoral and postdoctoral sequence for promising researchers trained initially in clinical psychology. We are requesting support only for the latter two years of the program, that is, six stipends for clinical research training at the postdoctoral level. By recruiting graduate students n clinical psychology with demonstrated scholarly accomplishments prior to the predoctoral internship, we are in a unique position to identify and prepare talented young psychologists for academic careers.
The specific aims are to provide trainees with (1) intensive clinical experience (during the internship) in the management of a broad spectrum of patients seen in an academic medical center;(2) a predoctoral and postdoctoral curriculum that enhances conceptual and practical skills in clinical research, including instruction in the responsible conduct of research;and (3) an intensive research apprenticeship (at the postdoctoral level) with an established clinical investigator and mentor. We have a sustained record of recruiting trainees from the best clinical psychology programs in the country and helping them to launch research careers. The program has made a strong showing on outcomes central to the mandate of institutional research training grants: placement of graduates in academic positions, successful pursuit by graduates of independent research projects and support, and sustained academic productivity and recognition. Among the 45 graduates still active in the work force (2 have become medically disabled), 40 (89%) have primary academic positions (39 as faculty members and 1 as a research fellow), 4 (9%) have primary clinical positions (with 3 of these 4 maintaining academic affiliations as adjunct faculty members), and 1 (2%) has a position as a research scientist in a for-profit setting. Among the 40 graduates in primary academic positions, 35 (88%) have had some external research funding.
Our goal is to train psychological clinical scientists needed to enhance the public health by promoting the scientific and training priorities of NIMH in an era of clinical neuroscience, e.g., a marriage of psychology and biology that examines brain-behavior relationships across multiple levels of analysis;dimensional approaches to the study of constructs and mechanisms that can be linked to both physiology and psychology;and application of such mechanistic understanding to the development and testing of increasingly effective interventions and treatment. Clinical psychologists are well-qualified to promote the translation of research findings to the clinical setting in meaningful ways because they have been in the forefront of the development of efficacious treatments that incorporate evidence-based mechanisms associated with specific psychopathology.
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