This new postdoctoral clinical research training program focuses on developing research scientists who focus on cognitive and affective dysfunctions in psychotic disorders. The program will utilize a training model that emphasizes the skills needed to bring concepts and paradigms from cognitive science and cognitive, social, and affective neuroscience into patient- oriented, clinical research on core deficits in neurocognition, social cognition, and emotion in schizophrenia and related psychoses. Direct mentoring interactions with both clinical investigators and cognitive scientists/neuroscientists wil be a key feature of this program, with the focus being on development and implementation of clinical research with individuals with psychotic disorders and those at risk for such disorders. Co-mentoring by clinical investigators and cognitive scientists/neuroscientists will ensure the development of an understanding of the principles and methods for adapting paradigms for use in research on psychotic disorders. Additional training themes of this program will be an emphasis on research on the links between core cognitive and affective dysfunctions and functional outcome in psychotic disorders and on research that examines these processes across prodromal, first episode, and chronic phases of schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders. The new training program will focus on individuals with Ph.D. in clinical psychology, cognitive science, cognitive neuroscience, or affective neuroscience, and on individuals with an M.D. followed by a psychiatric residency who plan to pursue a research career. The training program will include (1) extensive hands-on training in the development and implementation of translational clinical research on cognitive and affective dysfunctions in psychotic disorders through interactions with the co-mentors, (2) a weekly Research Seminar on the Psychosis taught jointly by clinical researchers and cognitive scientists/neuroscientists, (3) a monthly Research Career Development Seminar, (4) an intensive regional career development retreat, (5) coursework, workshops, and laboratory training tailored to individual research interests, and (6) training in responsible conduct of research. The training will be closely interfaced with a number of clinical research opportunities that allow access to research participants with schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders.
The core enduring dysfunctions in neurocognition, social cognition, and emotion in schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders have been shown to impact everyday work and social functioning in these disorders more than the psychotic symptoms themselves. If we are to reduce the severe disability that is often associated with these disorders, we need to understand more fully the nature of these core cognitive and affective dysfunctions and to improve our strategies for treating them. It is therefore of vital national health relevance to train additional researchers to move sophisticated paradigms from cognitive science and cognitive, social, and affective neuroscience into effective clinical research with patients to address these core dysfunctions in psychotic disorders.
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