This competitive renewal proposal is a request for continued funding of a broadly based pre- and postdoctoral training program in General Motor Control Mechanisms and Disease from Northwestern University. The program is directed by D. James Surmeier, PhD with the assistance of Indira Raman, PhD (Associate Director) and a Steering Committee. Trainees will conduct their research under the guidance of 43 preceptors working in motor control research from 14 departments spanning the Chicago and Evanston campuses of Northwestern University. The proposal requests support for 5 postdoctoral and 3 predoctoral trainees. Postdoctoral trainees will be selected on the basis of previous training and research plan. Predoctoral trainees will be selected from Northwestern University's Interdepartmental Neuroscience PhD Program (NUIN) on the basis of performance in courses, laboratory rotations and the relevance of dissertation research to the goals of the training program. A concerted effort will be made to continue recruiting minorities to the program. The program offers a broad range of interdisciplinary research and training opportunities in the neuroscience of somatic and autonomic motor control. The research of participating preceptors spans molecular, cellular, systems, clinical, behavioral and computational neuroscience. The preceptor faculty will assist and monitor trainee progress through formal advising and evaluations, through the classroom and through informal discussions (in journal clubs, lab meetings and research clubs). An important feature of the training program is that it brings together researchers in fundamental and clinical neurocience, providing a highly productive, interdisciplinary research environment for trainees in motor control and related motor system diseases at Northwestern University. In addition to providing research training, the program will help trainees develop skills in written and oral communication, grant writing/grantsmanship, networking and career development. Instilling a clear awareness of ethical issues facing neuroscientists and responsible conduct in science will be another training goal.
Diseases such as Parkinson's Disease, which impairs the ability of the patient to appropriately control their movements, are extremely debilitating and severely compromise the quality of life experienced for those afflicted. This Training Program seeks to provide young predoctoral and postdoctoral scientists the training they will need to become leaders in the field of motor control research. By understanding the basic processes involved in the execution of normal movement, it will hopefully be possible to also understand what goes wrong in diseases affecting the motor system and to develop treatment strategies.
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