Developmental cognitive and affective neuroscience has been a major force in the renewed focus upon adolescence as a critical period in development with life-long consequences for health and well-being. Scientific advances have highlighted the significance of brain development during this period, with a profound effect on public policy for children and youth, from Supreme Court rulings on culpability and juvenile justice to public health campaigns on smoking, concussion risk, and sexual health. The foundational contributions of research on adolescent brain and behavioral development up to this point offer promise for even broader contributions to the country's public health in the future. In order to best enhance healthy and productive adolescent development, the field will need to expand by developing research and training the next generation of scientists in four primary areas: (1) an integrative approach that incorporates both typical and atypical brain development; (2) the interaction between brain development and the social environment; (3) sophisticated approaches to examining longitudinal change over time; and (4) attention to population diversity according to ethnicity and socioeconomic resources. To our knowledge, however, there is no integrated predoctoral training program on adolescent brain and behavioral development in the U.S. Existing doctoral programs, including those at UCLA, alone cannot systematically and sustainably provide students with the training necessary to advance the future of research in the field. Key limitations include curricular and lab rotation barriers, financial constraints, and the lack of integrated professional socialization in both brain and behavioral development. At UCLA, we possess unique strengths that with the support of an Institutional Research Training Grant from NICHD, can be brought together to create a cutting-edge training program for the next generation of scholars who can advance science in the four areas describe above, and ultimately enhance the health and well-being of adolescents. We propose a predoctoral training program that supports five trainees per year for a two-year period in which students from our existing Psychology and Neuroscience Ph.D. programs enroll in new courses on substantive and methodological issues in adolescent brain and behavioral development, participate in new colloquia and scientific events, receive guidance on professional development and ethical practices, and actively engage in cutting-edge research mentored by top scientists in brain and behavioral development. Trainees will be able to take advantage of UCLA's many institutional resources and commitments to neuroscience and the training of next generation of skilled scientists from diverse backgrounds, including those traditionally underrepresented in the field. Our goal is for the proposed program to help NICHD achieve the scientific vision of ?basic and translational research that combines neuropsychological, behavioral, and social science perspectives, as well as new tools? to improve our understanding of typical and atypical development. .

Public Health Relevance

Capitalizing on UCLA's unique strengths, we propose creating a new and cutting-edge predoctoral training program in brain and behavioral development during adolescence to produce the next generation of scholars who can advance science and ultimately, enhance the health and well-being of adolescents.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Institutional National Research Service Award (T32)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZHD1)
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Griffin, James
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University of California Los Angeles
Schools of Medicine
Los Angeles
United States
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