Disorders of the nervous system are becoming more prevalent in our society, especially considering the growing number of people with neurological disorders as our population ages. To meet the challenge of developing new and effective therapies to treat these disorders, we need to consistently inspire intelligent and talented undergraduate students to enter careers in neuroscience research. This need is particularly acute among populations of students who are currently underrepresented in the field of neuroscience research. Published analyses have made it clear that making students aware of research fields early in their college careers, especially by involving them directly in the research process, is an extremely effective way of developing a student's interest in research as a future profession. For over 25 years, the University of Minnesota has recognized and met this challenge by offering summer residential research programs in biomedical sciences. This proposal is to fund a neuroscience component of these summer programs in which we will train 8 undergraduate students who have completed their freshman or sophomore years in college. We will recruit students nationally, focusing on students from groups that are underrepresented within the neuroscience research profession. We will provide them with a 10 week intensive research experience that will include professional mentoring (academic survival skills and preparation for graduate school) as well as workshops on research ethics. Our goals are to inspire a new generation of neuroscience researchers as well as to create a national mentoring pool who will accept that responsibility for future generations of students. In turn, we expect these individuals to become part of the research infrastructure dedicated to solving medical problems of nervous system dysfunction.
A major health challenge facing our society is a range of psychological and neurological disorders. This problem is becoming more acute as our population ages and develops its own set of nervous system disorders. The goal of this project is to support a summer residential research program at the University of Minnesota with the hope of inspiring new generations of bright, talented undergraduate students to enter neuroscience research as a career. The hope is that these future scientists will contribute to the health infrastructure by finding cures for these common, but devastating diseases of the nervous system.
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