Training Program: There are many strengths of this long-standing post-graduate training program in translational interdisciplinary research on schizophrenia and related disorders. The current application is the fourth renewal. The direction of the program appears to have been mildly modified over multiple iterations to increasingly incorporate new technologies (e.g., genomics, imaging). This past funding period appears to have further reflected thoughtful changes in emphasis, made in response to the prior NIH review of 2003 (i.e., adding training in grant preparation, enhanced tracking of graduates, strengthening of recruitment criteria, and ensuring trainees were evenly distributed across preceptors). The organization of the training program is grounded in four units: 1) Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 2) Genetics, 3) Cellular/Molecular, and 4) Developmental;while all trainees receive training in biostatistics and research methods, ethics, and basic neuroscience. The links between the activities of the Schizophrenia Training Program and the activities of multiple departments, institutes, and centers (figure 2) is a further strength. The faculty-fellows seminar sets an excellent academic curriculum for trainees. Training Program Director: Dr. Gur is an internationally recognized investigator of brain function in schizophrenia. As a Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Radiology, she is well equipped to lead such an interdisciplinary effort. Her own strongly funded research program and commitment to mentoring makes her an outstanding Program Director. She will dedicate 20% effort to this role. Preceptors/Mentors: The trainees benefit from a primary mentor and co-mentor in most cases, which is a strength of such an interdisciplinary training program. Further, large multi-disciplinary research programs that link research at Penn to CHOP (e.g., developmental studies) and other entities further enhance the trainees'opportunities. The caliber of mentors is excellent and with complementary areas of expertise and solid funding and publication records for most. Past Training Record: The majority of the mentors have a clear record of mentorship. However, tracking of the success of the previously trained mentees is spotty. Further, the strength of the proportion of former mentees currently in academic positions, as one metric of success, is somewhat unclear. Select former trainees have been very productive in terms of publications. Institutional Training Environment, Commitment, and Resources: The institutional facilities and resources are outstanding and highly supportive of the proposed training program. Trainee Recruitment, Selection, and Retention Plan: Selection of candidates is well described and logically centralized within the program. Applications include standard material such as an application form, letters of recommendation, and statement of research interests and plans. This packet is reviewed by the Program Director and Training Committee and there appears to be broad input in the interview process. A minor criticism is the vagueness of criteria for selection among qualified candidates: """"""""candidates considered as having the greatest potential as independent investigators."""""""" A second concern is that advertising for positions is not described. Past experience with recruiting underrepresented minority and women candidates has been variable. (Page 59 - in the last funding period, only in 2005-2006 were minority candidates selected among the applicant pool for program admission). Evaluation and Tracking Plan: The plan for evaluation and tracking of the program is adequate but not highly detailed. The application states that """"""""overall success of the program will be evaluated by examining the development of the fellows'careers as independent investigators."""""""" Toward this end, graduates will be contacted annually to obtain copies of updated CVs. Yet the application is lacking in defining clear metrics of success (e.g., percent graduates obtaining and remaining in academic positions, publications numbers, grant numbers, and other measures of impact of graduates on the field). Prior trainees appear to have done well including several small funded grants. The application discusses plans to strengthen the caliber of candidates in this renewal. Training in the Responsible Conduct of Research: This training program benefits from the involvement of the renowned bioethicist Dr Arthur Caplan, who oversees the Center for Bioethics at U Penn. This center sponsors workshops and seminars on the ethical conduct of research. Topics covered include informed consent, use of animals in research, etc, and trainee participation is mandatory. Additional courses are available to interested trainees. Budget: Acceptable.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Institutional National Research Service Award (T32)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZMH1-ERB-C (01))
Program Officer
Chavez, Mark
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University of Pennsylvania
Schools of Medicine
United States
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