There is a growing need for physician-scientists to translate developments in basic neuroscience into improvement in clinical care. Obtaining funding for basic, clinical, and translational research, however, has become increasingly difficult for clinician-investigators. Clinical neuroscience trainees require protected research time and mentoring during formative stages of their careers to compete successfully for mentored career (K) awards and other grants. The Columbia University Neurology Department has been a strong proponent of incorporating research into the training experience of residents. Beginning in 1979, the department had a T32 Clinical Neuroscience Training Program, which provided funding for PGY4 residents and first year fellows to learn research methodology. Since 2002, a Resident Research Mentorship Program has paired residents with faculty mentors to work on research, and since 2011 a scholarly project is required for all residents. Beginning in March 2010, this R25 research mentorship program has provided opportunities for 11 residents (9 neurologists, one neurosurgeon, one neuropathologist) to participate in mentored research projects (~mean 1.4 residents per year); another three residents (1 neurologist, 2 neuropathologists) applied for supplements in October 2018. Five residents have completed the R25 experience, including fellowship. Of these 5, all remain involved in research and 4 obtained further funding; three (60%) have applied for K awards, and two (40%) have obtained independent K awards (one K08, one K23); the third obtained a KL2 award and resubmitted his K08 in November 2018. Of the five trainees still in the program, four plan to submit K award proposals within the next 1-2 years. The present proposal describes a plan to continue this formalized resident research experience for at least one resident (Neurology, Neuropathology, or Neurosurgery) annually who is considered to have exceptional promise to become an independent researcher. The focus will be on a practical, mentor-directed research experience, with limited classroom time, and participating residents will continue to be optimally situated to compete for mentored career (K) awards at completion of training. Dr. Elkind, the Program Director/PI, a tenured Professor of Neurology and Epidemiology at Columbia University, has independent NIH funding for clinical research, extensive experience mentoring residents and fellows (including directing an NINDS T32 in Neuroepidemiology), and experience reviewing grants. The newly introduced co-Investigator and co-Director, Dr. James Goldman, is an experienced neuropathologist and NIH- funded laboratory scientist with extensive mentoring experience. The 47 faculty members of the program are all experienced researchers with track records of mentoring. The program will continue to be evaluated primarily by the trainees' success in obtaining K awards, as well as by academic career placement and productivity in publications.
Laboratory and clinical neuroscience have advanced markedly in recent years, and there is now a growing role for clinician-scientists to translate developments in neuroscience into improvement in clinical care. Training young neurologists at a formative stage of their careers in research methods, and encouraging them to consider research as a career, will increase the number of committed, successful clinician-scientists. This proposal for a renewal of the highly successful Columbia University Neurology Resident Research Education Program will provide talented clinical neuroscience residents with the opportunity to develop research skills that have a high likelihood of reducing the burden of neurological disease.
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