The goal of the proposed research-training program is to strengthen the capacity of Venezuelan scientists based at the University of Zulia to study genetics of common hereditable disorders relevant to Latin America and the Caribbean, and in particular to Venezuela. The strategy is to enhance the current research and training programs at the University of Zulia by: (1) training a critical mass of scientists and engineers in the design and conduct of modern genetic/genomic research (2) facilitating the development of a research and training infrastructure at the University of Zulia that will draw upon and focus clinical and scientific expertise throughout Western Venezuela (3) sustaining the research and training programs at the University of Zulia by establishing collaborative networks with Columbia University researchers studying the genetic basis of the most common complex hereditable disorders. The proposed training program seeks to capitalize upon current genetic and genomic research programs at Columbia University that overlap thematically with the focus on common heritable neurodegenerative disorders at the University of Zulia. The training program is designed to educate doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows in human genetics, including genetic epidemiology, population genetics, molecular genetics, clinical genetics, statistical genetics and bioinformatics, with a broad understanding on the ethical, legal and social issues related to human genetics research. The didactic component of the program includes a series of academic courses, seminars and laboratory rotations. In the research component each Fellow will work closely with a Preceptor on an independent research project of the Fellow's choosing and that is related to his/her future research in Venezuela. In addition Fellows will be exposed to the process of development of low-cost diagnostic methods that may facilitate the recognition of neurodegenerative disorders and the development of preventive or ameliorative treatment options. At the end of the program Fellows should understand the critical aspects of study design, methodology, and genetic and epidemiological theory relevant to the detection of complex disease loci and to specifically address the interaction of genetic factors with environmental and cultural factors. Emphasis will be given to defining tractable genetic targets and building productive collaborations. ? ?
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