This application, ?Postdoctoral Research in Neurodevelopmental Disorders,? is a request for five years of funding for the competing continuation of an NIH National Research Service Award (NRSA) Institutional Training Grant (T32). Recent advances in behavioral science, neuroscience, and molecular genetics have led to dramatic gains in our understanding of the pathogenesis of neurodevelopmental disorders. The purpose of this training program is to develop researchers with expertise in both the biological basis and clinical manifestations of neurodevelopmental disorders. This broad-based integrated perspective will enable researchers to better relate across disciplines, and will maximize the potential for transformative advances in understanding the pathogenesis of these disorders and in developing new and more effective approaches to their treatment. Ultimately, this training will prepare researchers to interface across disciplines and will increase the number of well-rounded researchers, significantly advancing the health-related research needs of the nation (the primary objective of the T32 program). The proposed postdoctoral training plan provides a variety of opportunities including: (1) mentored research training in specific methods, disorders, and underlying pathogenetic mechanisms; (2) a range of didactic experiences (including courses, seminars, and lectures) that integrate the study of clinical disorders, normal developmental processes, mechanisms of disease, and research methods; and, (3) clinical exposures to complement previous basic science and basic science exposure to complement clinical experiences. Twenty Ph.D. or M.D. level trainees (four new trainees per year) will participate in this two-year training program, over the five-year period of this proposal. This proposal addresses the critical need for focused training opportunities beyond formal graduate programs by using the existing interdisciplinary research and administrative structure of the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities (CIDD). All faculty mentors are members of the CIDD, which offers a comprehensive program for services, education, and research in developmental disabilities. Together with the excellent clinical and basic science resources of the University of North Carolina (UNC), the CIDD provides an ideal environment for integrating training in biological and behavioral research in neurodevelopmental disorders.
Individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, intellectual disability, and fetal alcohol syndrome often have severe impairments that require lifelong care, resulting in a substantial burden to affected individuals, their families, and their communities. The complexity of these conditions demands an integrated strategy that cuts across traditional research boundaries between the behavioral and basic biological sciences, including the boundaries between animal and human studies, as well as the boundaries between the laboratory and real-world applications. In this postdoctoral research training program in neurodevelopmental disorders, we propose an integrated diverse training program that will prepare researchers to interface across disciplines and to make transformative advances for the betterment of individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders.
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