Multidisciplinary approaches drive progress in the neurosciences perhaps more than in most other areas of biomedical research. The next generation of research neuroscientists, therefore, must be equipped with a multi-faceted skill set if they are to transition to successful independent careers and contribute meaningfully to the field. To meet this challenge, we propose a new predoctoral Synapse Neurobiology Training Program (SNTP) at Tufts University School of Medicine that will provide in-depth, multidisciplinary research education of 4 trainees in the area of synaptic function-a particular strength of the Tufts neuroscience faculty. The synapse forms the foundation of nervous system function, and research on synapses is, arguably, one of the most interdisciplinary areas in modern neurobiology. The SNTP training plan, thus, includes several mechanisms that position trainees to become leading neuroscientists, working at the interface between traditional disciplines: ? Each trainee will be co-mentored by two SNTP faculty members who provide training in distinct yet complementary areas. ? Through subsidized, one-on-one training in imaging, bioinformatics, electrophysiology, and animal behavior methods (provided via the core facilities and PhD-level Managers in the NINDS-funded Center for Neuroscience Research at Tufts), SNTP trainees will acquire the state-of-the-art tools and training required for an effective and influential multidisciplinary approach. ? Innovative quantitative skills and techniques courses and individualized training plans will further aid each SNTP trainee in mastering the necessary skills to accomplish his/her research career goals. ? Frequent opportunities for individual interactions with visiting speakers will provide SNTP trainees with further exposure to new methodologies and ideas as well as advice and guidance.
Myriad disorders of the nervous system-e.g., epilepsy, ataxia, Parkinson's Disease, dementia, and stroke- involve fundamental alterations in synaptic function;dozens of mutations and polymorphisms in pre and postsynaptic receptors and ion channels are implicated in human neurological diseases. The development of future therapeutic approaches for such diseases will increasingly rely on advances made by a continuing cadre of investigators trained to unravel the fundamental mechanisms underlying synapse function. The goal of the SNTP is, thus, to ensure that our trainees have the tools and training required to shape the future of neuroscience through enhanced understanding of synaptic function in health and disease.
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