The goal of this proposal is to increase the capacity of Meharry faculty and students to conduct highly competitive and rigorous mental health research. We specifically aim to (1) increase the number of mainstream grants among the neuroscience faculty, (2) develop a formal interdisciplinary training program in neuroscience, and (3) stimulate interest in neuroscience/mental health relevant research among research competent clinical faculty. To achieve this goal, we propose a three pronged approach; namely, (1) an institutional infrastructural core program, (2) a set of three individual investigator projects, and (3) associate investigator projects enabling the training of minority Ph.D. graduate students. The successful implementation of this proposal should enable the Meharry neuroscience community to become a major contributor in the area of neuroscience and mental health research and research training. Given Meharry's mission, the success of the Meharry M-RISP will undoubtedly result in the greater involvement of underrepresented minorities in neuroscience and mental health related research. INSTITUTIONAL CORE: GENERAL BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Meharry Medical College, established in 1876 for the purpose of training black physicians, has trained approximately 40% of the nation's black physicians. In 1972, the School of Graduate Studies was established. Five Ph.D. tracks exist in biochemistry, biomedical sciences, microbiology, pharmacology and physiology. The M.D./Ph.D. program was established in 1981. In 1996, 22 students received a master's degree and 7 received a doctorate degree. An impressive number of core facilities are available to research faculty at Meharry. The Principal Investigator and Director of the Meharry M-RISP is Dr. James Townsel. Dr. Townsel has 18 years of administrative experience and is an active researcher. Other members of the Core will be an administrative assistant, who will help with the day-to-day operations of the program, and members of Internal and External Advisory Committees. Proposed members of the Internal Advisory Committee are Sukhbir Mokha, Ph.D. (Chair, Department of Physiology); Gary Linn, Ph.D. (Associate Professor, VA Medical Center), Delores Shockley, Ph.D. (Professor and Chair, Department of Pediatrics); Hubert Rucker, Ph.D. (Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Physiology); Fed Jones, Ph.D. (Vice President of Research); Herschell Warren (Executive Director, Elam Mental Health Center); Student Representative; James Townsel, Ph.D. (Professor, M-RISP Program Director). The Infrastructural Core consists of a seminar series, a weekly journal club, an extramural advisory committee, an annual neuroscience symposium, and an annual workshop. Seminar Series: The seminar series will be on a monthly basis and will focus on neuroscience/mental health issues. Five seminars will be presented by outside speakers and three by members of the Extramural Advisory Committee. This series will augment an ongoing seminar series, and attempts will be made to invite speakers from the clinical research community. Journal Club: The Journal Club for neuroscience faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students will meet over lunch on a weekly basis. Extramural Advisory Committee: This will consist of Professors Gerald Fischbach (Harvard Medical School), Joe Martinez (University of Texas at San Antonio), and Ford Ebner (Vanderbilt University). This committee will advise and make recommendations to the Program Director, help to stimulate state-of-the-art research in mental health topics by delivering seminars and interacting with faculty and students and assist faculty to develop competitive R01 type applications. Annual Neuroscience Symposium: For the past four years, the Meharry neuroscience group has organized a symposium that has attracted neuroscientists from the Middle Tennessee area. Participants have come from Vanderbilt, Tennessee State and Fisk University. The symposium will be co-sponsored with the MBRS Program, and funds from the M-RISP will replace those from the RCMI program, which are no longer available to neuroscience. Annual Workshop: A two day workshop is planned. Short formal presentations by the panel will take place in the mornings followed by questions from the audience and a panel discussion. These sessions will be open to the scientific community and will be video-taped. Afternoons will feature break-out sessions consisting of small groups led by Meharry faculty. A proposed topic for the next workshop is Computational Neuroscience. Several tentative speakers have been identified and include Matthew Palakal, Indiana University/Purdue University (modeling of bat FM echo location); Christof Koch, CalTech (information processing in single cells); Eve Marder, Brandeis University (oscillatory networks). The Core will also spearhead efforts to organize an interdisciplinary training program in neuroscience. Currently, extramurally funded neuroscience programs are distributed over five basic science departments or divisions. Personnel: Personnel consist of 1 Program Director, 2 Associate Investigators, 3 Individual Investigators, 3 Consultants, and 1 Collaborator. Each of the Associate Investigators proposes to train 1 Ph.D. student.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Resource-Related Research Projects (R24)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZMH1-NRB-R (06))
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Ragland, Sherman L
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Meharry Medical College
Schools of Medicine
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