This proposal is a request for continued funding of a broadly based predoctoral and postdoctoral Mechanisms of Aging and Dementia Training Program from the Northwestern University Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program (NUIN). Funding to support four advanced predoctoral candidates, after they have begun full-time thesis research, and four postdoctoral trainees in early or later stages of training, is requested. Training duration will be for two years with a goal to assist trainees in submitting and obtaining support from individual research fellowships following training grant support. This training program developed from a multidisciplinary group of investigators whose work focuses on the mechanisms of aging and dementia, including Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, with approaches spanning molecular, cellular, systems, behavioral, neuropsychological and clinical neuroscience. These faculty are affiliated primarily with NUIN and the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center, which has an NIA supported Alzheimer's Disease Center grant, and the Udall Parkinson's Disease Center. The program will be directed by John Disterhoft, PhD and Robert Vassar, PhD in a Multi-PI format, with Dr. Disterhoft directing the program in funding years 16-17, Drs. Disterhoft and Vassar jointly directing the program in funding years 18-19, and Dr. Vassar directing the program in funding year 20. They will have the assistance of Sandra Weintraub, PhD (Associate Director), an internal Steering Committee and an External Advisory Committee. The four predoctoral and four postdoctoral trainees will conduct their research under the guidance of 36 preceptors from 13 departments of 3 schools on the Chicago and Evanston campuses of Northwestern University, and one from Rush University Medical School. Predoctoral trainees will be selected from NUIN and the other participating PhD programs on the basis of course performance, research rotation evaluations, and the relevance of proposed dissertation research. Postdoctoral trainees will be selected on the basis of previous training and a research plan. Special consideration will be given to trainees whose research plans are interdisciplinary and carried out in more than one preceptor laboratory. A concerted effort will be made to recruit trainees from underrepresented backgrounds. The program will offer a broad range of interdisciplinary research and training opportunities in both the fundamental and clinical approaches to aging and dementia research. The preceptor faculty will assist and monitor trainee progress through formal advising and evaluations, through the classroom and through informal discussions. In addition to providing research training, the program will help trainees develop skills in written and oral communication, grant writing, networking, career development and techniques for insuring reproducibility and accuracy of research findings. Instilling a clear awareness of ethical issues facing neuroscientists and responsible conduct in science will be another training goal.
Diseases associated with aging, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and ALS, which cause dementia and other symptoms, severely compromise the quality of life for those afflicted and close to them. This Training Program seeks to provide young predoctoral and postdoctoral scientists the training they will need to become leaders in the field of aging and dementia research. By understanding the basic processes of aging, it will be possible to also understand what goes wrong in the devastating diseases that afflict so many.
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