Our major goal is to advance diversity by creating a strong neuroscience center in Puerto Rico that will develop Hispanic American neuroscientists through a program that integrates research, graduate education, undergraduate engagement, and career guidance. Neuroscience research at Universidad Central del Caribe (UCC) has grown significantly over the last decade, and we are now are positioned to bring neuroscience at UCC to the next level, one defined by continued excellence in basic research, growth in translational research, collaborations with top mainland universities, multidisciplinary training of students from underrepresented minority groups, and fostering professional development in these individuals. At the core of this effort will be a state-of-the-art Institute for Neuroscience that integrates high performance in basic and translational research with educational programs and ongoing mentoring of students and young faculty. The specific objectives of our program are to: 1) increase diversity and develop excellence in neuroscience research in Puerto Rico, and 2) provide first-rate training in neuroscience research and career development guidance for faculty, graduate students, medical students, and undergraduates that are Hispanic Americans and often from disadvantaged backgrounds. Our research program is focused on the mechanisms of neuronal plasticity and neuroprotection against stroke, thus creating a bridge between basic and translational research on neuronal mechanisms. The proposed research program creates a multi-university crossdisciplinary network of neuroscientists that will facilitate mentoring relationships, amplify scientific synergism, and at the same time broaden the research focus of every member of the group as well as bridge basic and translational research. Building on a foundation grounded in an interdisciplinary, collaborative research network and research program addressing health-related problems through basic and translational neuroscience, we will develop a comprehensive training and mentoring program that serves both faculty and students. By creating a strong and efficient training and mentoring center in neuroscience on the Island of Puerto Rico that serves Hispanic Americans, the proposed program has the potential to significantly promote workforce diversity in the U.S.
Developing highly skilled neuroscience researchers capable of advancing our understanding of diseases that are priorities for NINDS is critical for improving public health. There is a simultaneous need to increase the diversity of the neuroscience workforce in the United States to assure future global competitiveness. To address both these needs, a training program will be implemented in Puerto Rico to prepare Hispanic American faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates to become outstanding neuroscientists.
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