Continuing support is requested for the University of North Carolina Research Training Program in Eating Disorders. This program involves 23 senior and 12 junior research mentors, 3 biostatisticians, 4 foreign affiliates, and 8 clinical advisors. Mentors span the Schools of Medicine, Public Health, Social Work, Nursing, Journalism and Mass Communications, and the College of Arts and Sciences. Trainees are guided by a mentorship team (two research faculty and a clinical advisor) to achieve seven core aims: 1) to achieve a high level of research expertise in a specialist area while becoming well-versed in the broader context of eating disorders;2) to achieve excellence in research design, methodology, and biostatistics;3) to be sensitive to and aware of ethical issues related to human participants and the ethical conduct of science;4) to be well-versed in animal welfare issues;5) to be aware of key clinical issues with eating disorders patients;6) to complete a research project commensurate with prior training under the supervision of training faculty;and, 7) to follow an individualized training path that builds necessary skills necessary to achieve the status of an independent investigator efficiently. Our approach encourages collaborative science across disciplines applying state-of-the-science approaches and technologies. With this renewal, we incorporate expertise of new faculty and developments in the field, and broaden our interdisciplinary focus. We will recruit scientist-practitioners and scientists from diverse fields who may or may not identify as eating disorders researchers, but whose research could critically inform the eating disorders field. In addition to trainees with pre-existing eating disorders interests, we will recruit MDs, PhDs, and MD/PhDs with graduate training or interest in neuroscience, animal behavior, behavioral and molecular genetics, statistical genetics, clinical psychology, health disparities and other disciplines to bring their expertise and methodologies to bear on eating disorders. Attracting the brightest trainees from relevant neighboring disciplines will invigorate eating disorders science and underscore the far-reaching implications of eating disorders research to our understanding of appetite, weight, and mood regulation. We will recruit three qualified applicants per year and provide rigorous advanced training maintaining our interdisciplinary bench to society approach. We remain extremely well-poised to attract excellent candidates including female and minority trainees. A systematic series of bidirectional internal and external program evaluations with clear benchmarks facilitates optimization of the program, with the ultimate goal of nurturing highly trained, methodologically rigorous, clinically competent or clinically informed researchers. Our trainees will continue their track record of successful proposals to NIH and other funding bodies to become established independent investigators and elevate eating disorders to the next level of scientific sophistication.
This application is aimed at preparing an outstanding interdisciplinary cohort of researchers for independent careers in the investigation and treatment of eating disorders. This need is based on the number of individuals affected by eating disorders, the considerable costs to society associated with their care, the limited effectiveness of available treatment.
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