Dramatic advances have occurred in basic neuroscience and molecular genetics. However, the utilization of such knowledge to understand the pathophysiology of mental illness and mechanisms of treatment may be hindered by a dearth of physician scientists trained to apply it to key problems of mental diseases. This application is a competitive renewal of a program that seeks to increase the number and quality of basic and clinical research investigators in mental health. The Research Resident Training Program (RRTP) employs proactive mentorship and targeted research support to facilitate the development of translational researchers. Specifically, the program provides support for involvement in psychiatric research training and activity beginning in the PGY-1 year and continuing through the PGY-4 and, if indicated, in the PGY-5/6 years. The allocation of training support to research residents is determined annually on a competitive basis. In addition to stipend support of individual trainees, the program provides internal funding to support resident research projects, professional travel, and formal course work in methodology, statistics and research ethics. Each trainee is assigned a career mentor who assists them in identifying a research mentor, and provides support and advice about ongoing issues related to career development. An individualized development plan (IDP) is created and reviewed yearly. A research project is developed in the PGY-1 or PGY-2 and generally conducted in PGY-3 and -4. In conjunction with formal coursework and hands-on research experience, networking and career development opportunities are emphasized, as is the successful integration of clinical and research training. The career development of women and minority trainees in psychiatric research is specifically emphasized. Research residents participate in ongoing research-related journal clubs, a works-in-progress dinner series that will include research residents from other California training sites, as well as in two annual research retreats: one, a Departmental retreat in which all research trainees and faculty are invited to present a summary of their recent work, and the other, an interinstitutional Research Retreat, that we plan to rotate between northern and southern California sites. Training in the Responsible Conduct of Research is required. Innovations for the next funding period include 1) increasing flexibility in the timing of clinical rotations to build and maintain research momentum, 2) near-peer learning, 3) longitudinal clinical experiences that integrate with research interests, 4) neuroscience literacy, 5) integrating RDoC, 6) academic leadership opportunities, 7) expanding the RRTP website to foster program dissemination, 8) expanding networking with trainees at other programs, and 9) interactions with previous RRTP graduate role models. The success of the program in facilitating independent research scientist careers will be assessed through subjective and objective instruments constructed to assay changes in attitudes, knowledge, and skills in the course of their research training; entry into research fellowships; and subsequent record of publication and grant submissions.
There is a consensus of opinion and fact that a shortfall of physician scientists investigating mental diseases exists. This research education program proposal is intended to increase the number of psychiatrists pursuing a career in mental disorder research and to train them in research methods.
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