The Interdisciplinary Training Program in Rehabilitation and Neuromuscular Plasticity (NMPT) at the University of Florida (UF) was initiated in 2003. The overall goal of this program is to help build a critical capacity of highly-trained rehabilitation scientists capable of conducting translational neuromuscular plasticity research. This predoctoral training program is unique in that it emphasizes the interaction and joint training of rehabilitation clinicians and basic science Trainees. The NMPT program draws students from five thriving PhD programs in the biomedical sciences, and our Faculty are active members of multiple Centers and Institutes devoted to distinct aspects of neuromuscular plasticity and rehabilitation. The program capitalizes on existing UF strengths including a core of well-established and highly productive rehabilitation investigators, outstanding research facilities, an exemplary record of collaboration, extraordinary institutional commitment, and a culture of successful mentorship in rehabilitation at multiple levels, including graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty. Upon entering the program, each Trainee prepares an individualized training plan under the guidance of an experienced Faculty Mentor and Translational Research Co-Advisor. The individualized plan consists of a structured didactic program, specialized courses, journal clubs and seminars, laboratory research and multiple scientific dissemination experiences. The NMPT program is a well-defined, closely monitored program with clearly established training objectives and an effective evaluation process. We have a well- defined management structure that includes a Program Director, Curriculum Coordinator, a Translational Science Advisor, an Internal Steering Committee and an External Advisory Board. The NMPT program has been highly successful since its inception in 2003 with 25 of 29 graduates (86%) in academic or clinical research positions and 4 in industry research or government biomedical fields. Over the last cycle (2014- present), we graduated 10 NMPT Trainees. These Trainees have published an average of 12 PubMed- indexed manuscripts and all have obtained academic, research or biomedical positions. The NMPT program is achieving our goal of training scientists capable of engaging in translational rehabilitation research and sustaining independently funded research programs.
Nationally, there is a shortage of rehabilitation scientists that are qualified to lead interdisciplinary research and develop innovative research programs that address the needs of individuals with disabilities. This proposal is a renewal application to continue training graduate students with either a clinical or basic science background to help fill this void. These students will perform research in a variety of neurological and neuromuscular conditions, across the lifespan.
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