There is a strong need in psychiatry to invigorate the career development of physician-scientists who can apply advances in neuroscience to applications that improve the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric patients. The need for physician-scientists in psychiatry may be greater than in other fields of medicine, since at present, we still rely almost entirely on the clinical interaction between clinician and patients to obtain the information needed to establish a diagnosis, to select the most appropriate treatment, and to evaluate the effects of that treatment. One day we may be able to apply biomarkers derived from a knowledge of disease mechanisms to assist in establishment of a diagnosis and to select treatment, but even these biomarkers will need to be validated using clinical information collected by physician-scientists, and then integrated with the patient's clinical narrative to arrive at a precise diagnosis and develop an effective treatment plan. The proposed R25 program at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (NUFSM) aims to enrich research training for general psychiatry residents and clinical fellows during their usual period of training, so that these individuals maintain and further consolidate their commitment to a career in research that is aligned with the strategic plan of NIMH.
We aim to support their training so that they strengthen their commitment to an academic career pathway, where they will acquire critical skills in study design, research methodologies, data analysis, grant writing and career development. Applicants to our post-graduate training programs in psychiatry already demonstrate strong interests and aptitudes for academic careers. Thus, our Northwestern trainees are excellent candidates for an enriched research experience. Also, educational assets currently in place at Northwestern through our CTSA, Physician Scientist Training Programs, Masters of Clinical Investigation program, and various interdepartmental graduate programs can be leveraged to increase the impact of the proposed R25 program. If successful, this application would create the only R25 physician-scientist training program for psychiatry residents in the central Midwest.
By implementing this research education program for psychiatry trainees, we aim to support the career development of individuals who are committed to careers in translational neuroscience research. These individuals are greatly needed in the field of psychiatry to apply new knowledge about the brain to improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients with mental disorders. Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine attracts significant numbers of such trainees to its residency and clinical fellowships, and the resources provided by the proposed R25 program will ensure that their research careers flourish during their post-graduate training.