This proposal requests the continuation of support for Pre-doctoral students during their first two years of a broad-based interdisciplinary PhD Program in Neuroscience at Wake Forest University (WFU). The Neuroscience Graduate Program has undergone considerable growth since its inception in 1990, and currently involves 98 faculties (44 Training Faculty) from 14 academic and clinical departments and currently has 28 PhD and 1 MD/PhD students in various stages of training. The rationale for this program is based on the enormous complexity of the nervous system, which requires the combined approaches of physiology, biochemistry, developmental biology, cell and molecular biology and clinical, behavioral and systems neuroscience. Accordingly, a major goal of our program since its inception has been to provide students with a broad-based foundation in all aspects of neuroscience. Admission into the Program is based on a student's research experience, academic record, standardized test scores, recommendations, face-to-face interviews and prior completion of course work in biochemistry and cell and molecular biology. In their first year, all students take a two-semester course (10 credits). Introduction to Neuroscience composed of five, 6 7 week long components that include: Neuro-anatomy, Cell &Molecular Neuroscience, Developmental Neuroscience, Sensory-Motor Systems and Cognitive-Computational Neuroscience. In their second year, students are required to take Clinical Neuroscience and one additional neuroscience-related elective. Other requirements include courses in The Responsible Conduct of Science and Career Development. During their first academic year and summer, all students also complete three laboratory rotations to aid them in finding a PhD mentor, and they participate in focused journal clubs and seminars. By the second year, students are expected to have chosen a PhD mentor and begun dissertation related research. The training faculty represents expertise in diverse areas of neuroscience with major strengths in sensory systems, behavior, development, neuro-plasticity, substance abuse, neuro-pharmacology, aging, and cell death and neuro- degeneration. Training and research facilities are excellent, and institutional support has been generous Continued extramural support from NIH for the current two students per year foster and maintain the growth and excellence of this well-established interdisciplinary neuroscience graduate program.
Structural and functional alterations of the nervous system underlie a diversity of pathological conditions that affect large numbers of the human population. An increased understanding of both the normal and pathological nervous system is key to diagnosis, treatment and prevention.