Support is requested to renew and continue a broad, comprehensive, and interdisciplinary predoctoral training program in the neurosciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The training culminates in the award of Ph.D. degree and is administered by the interdepartmental Curriculum in Neurobiology. Training will involve 84 faculty members of the Curriculum (65 Primary Faculty and 19 Associate Faculty), representing research laboratories in 13 departments or programs. Research facilities are well-equipped and funded for a wide variety of cellular, molecular, genetic, biochemical, biophysical, physiological, behavioral, and disease oriented investigations. The Neurobiology Curriculum is closely integrated with the University of North Carolina Neuroscience Center and the program in Behavioral Neuroscience, providing expanded opportunities for training through new research laboratories and the recruitment of new faculty. The formal training program is already in place and constitutes a series of required and elective learning activities. Learning activities include formal coursework, communication skills seminars, laboratory apprenticeships, focused dissertation research under the guidance of faculty mentors, weekly research seminars, clinical correlation experiences, journal clubs, and discussion groups on topics of career development and research integrity. Several annual symposia inspire trainees with presentations by distinguished visiting neuroscientists. An important central goal is to train individuals to utilize methods from a variety of disciplines to probe important problems in neurobiology. The proposed training program will take advantage of several areas of particular strength in neurobiology research at University of North Carolina, including: (1) molecular and genetic control of neural development, (2) molecular correlations of specific sensory neuronal function, (3) glial cell biology, (4) structure, function, regulation, and signal transduction pathways of neurotransmitter receptors, (5) functional imaging of nervous system activity in vitro, in vivo, and in situ, and (6) translational research into the biological bases of neurological disease. Trainees take courses in Years -01 and -02, do three research rotations in Year -01, take a written comprehensive qualifying exam at the end of Year -02, defend the dissertation proposal during Year -03, perform intensive research in Years -02 to -06, and defend the dissertation before the end of Year -06 (average 5.7 years). There are now 33 students in the Neurobiology Curriculum and 13 students in Behavioral Neuroscience who are minoring in Neurobiology. An undetermined number of first-year students will enter in fall, 2008. Support is requested for ten predoctoral trainees. Qualified minority candidates are aggressively recruited.
Neuropsychiatric disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, chronic pain, and alcohol addiction are a major health burden in the U.S. This Jointly Sponsored NIH Predoctoral Training Program in the Neurosciences supports fundamental, early-stage research training in the neurosciences, leading to the Ph.D. degree. Top students funded by this training program go on to perform cutting-edge research in the neurosciences and make discoveries that lead to new treatments of neuropsychiatric disorders.
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