This proposal aims to renew support for a Training Program in Epilepsy Research. The overall goal of the program is recruitment and training of a diverse group of outstanding neuroscientists who will gain (1) sophisticated and in depth knowledge of research germane to the neurobiology, co-morbidities and cure of human epilepsy;(2) cutting edge methods and innovative experimental approaches required for successful competitive contemporary research;(3) understanding and preparation for a diverse repertoire of career choices in epilepsy research. The Training Program in Epilepsy Research accomplishes these goals via individualized, committee-supervised research training in the labs of 14 well-funded and enthusiastic preceptors. The training experience is enriched by program-specific courses, seminars and symposia that draw in the UCI Neuroscience community and potential trainees. Our success to date in achieving our ambitious training goals derives from an outstanding pool of candidates, and from synergy with the UCI Epilepsy Research Center and the UCI Clinical Epilepsy Program, which interact to provide a multifaceted training experience. These assets are complemented by an open and interactive research atmosphere and abundant collaborations among program faculty. Our approach to Epilepsy as Window to Brain Plasticity promotes both basic and translational approaches to research on epilepsy and its cognitive and emotional co-morbidities. Given the trajectories of academic careers, tangible measures of success of our training approach are becoming evident as the Training Program in Epilepsy Research is in its 9th year. Nine of eleven (82%) program alumni are in academia, all assistant professors or equivalent and 5 in tenure track, including a woman from an underrepresented minority group. The 2/11 not in Academia is involved in neuroscience as managing editor, Nature publications and college level educator. The large majority of past trainees are involved in epilepsy research, and several past and present-cycle trainees have received their own NRSA or equivalent. Our goal for the coming years of the Program-one of only two Epilepsy-focused T32s in the U.S.- are to capitalize on our success and learn from trainee and faculty input to further enhance the training experience: (1) From our 2 pre-doctoral trainees (one a minority), we learnt the beneficial effects of pre-postdoc trainee interactions to both, and request that one of our 4 yearly trainees be a senior predoctoral student;(2) We aim to increase MD recruitment (currently 10%), and that of individuals from diverse backgrounds (12.5.%;higher than in the UCI graduate pool). (3) We aim to intensify career preparation and grant writing skills via integrative efforts with the new UCI CTSA. Thus, the Training Program in Epilepsy will build on its record of launching talented neuroscientists, including minority and women into sustainable academic careers, thus enhancing the future workforce in neuroscience research.
Epilepsy is the third most common chronic brain disorder, and the most common one that affects young people. We do not yet understand how epilepsy arises, and lack cure and therapies for many affected individuals. Curing epilepsy requires that outstanding research of its origins and its effects on the brain will be carried out by the brightet scientists now and in the future. This proposal aims to train, in the best possible way, the next generation of epilepsy researchers.
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