The Interdisciplinary Program in Neurosciences (IPN) at Georgetown University is a broad-based, transdisciplinary, non-departmental program leading to a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. The program, established in 1994, trains students in the scholarly pursuit of research in integrative neuroscience, from the cell to the intact behaving organism. The 32 core training faculty and 20 supporting faculty are drawn from 14 clinical and basic science departments on the Main Campus and Medical Center;they span a breadth of inquiry, ranging from neurotransmitter receptors and signal transduction, to behavior and human disease. Areas of research strengths include 1) neural injury, degeneration, and plasticity;2) synaptic modulation and signal transduction;4) neural substrates of autism, epilepsy, schizophrenia, dementias, and addiction;and 5) telencephalic neural networks subserving sensory processing, memory and language. Students gain training in a range of approaches, including molecular, genetic, neurophysiological, cognitive testing, computational and imaging techniques. Training Grant funds support prethesis training (8 slots during the first 2 years);research grants and individual fellowships support thesis research. The program enrolls 40-50 thesis and prethesis students. Aggressive recruitment of underrepresented racial and ethnic applicants continues to be a top priority. The training environment fosters interactive, pandisciplinary research of both faculty and trainees. Over 40% of the core training faculty are in close proximity in the Research Building, with state-of-the-art core facilities and custom designed laboratory and office space. Faculty are highly collaborative;students are encouraged to seek co-mentorship between faculty with interfacing interests and complementary approaches. All core training faculty have research grant support and fully equipped facilities for training pre-and postdoctoral students. The recent recruitment of several neuroscience faculty into the Departments of Pharmacology, Psychology and Neuroscience, has expanded the equipment, facilities and faculty expertise available to the training program. The training program includes broad-based didactic coursework, as well as rotations in laboratories of the training faculty. The trainees participate in a seminar series, national professional meetings, journal clubs, intensive laboratory research, and training in several essential professional skills (writing and reviewing manuscripts, grantsmanship, mentorship, teaching, conflict resolution, career choices, oral presentations) and their ethical dimensions. Opportunities for gaining practical teaching experience at the undergraduate and secondary school levels are abundant and encouraged.
The goal of the proposed training program is to prepare future scientists for a career as highly creative, inquisitive and productive biomedical researchers. We seek to provide the trainees, who are pursuing their Ph.D. in neuroscience, with broad-based interdisciplinary training relevant to understanding a variety of diseases and disorders of the nervous system. Through didactic coursework, laboratory research, career development skills training, and instruction in the responsible conduct of research, the students supported through this training mechanism will be poised to make important discoveries aimed at preventing and curing a spectrum of neurological and psychiatric disorders, such as autism, epilepsy, schizophrenia, dementias, communicative disorders, and addiction.
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