In its most recent research plan, the NHLBI's National Center for Sleep Disorders Research identified the need to train investigators as its highest priority. The Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine Program for Training in Sleep, Circadian and Respiratory Neurobiology, based at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, has been addressing this need since 1998 and has been modified to address the new challenges in our field. This program provides structured, comprehensive research training to prepare outstanding individuals for academic positions in the broad field of sleep science and sleep and circadian medicine. For each trainee, the training program consists of core required courses and activities, elective courses and activities, and an intensive research experience. Cross-disciplinary and translational research is a highlight of this program, and formal mentoring and tracking components are integral features. Intensive research training experiences are available across the breadth of sleep, circadian and respiratory neurobiology areas, including basic as well as clinical and translational research opportunities, with two program projects that span multiple laboratories and institutions. There are 15 Full Preceptors with extensive experience and demonstrated success at training pre- doctoral and post-doctoral fellows, well-funded research programs (training faculty have current research support totaling nearly $30 million of direct costs per year), and outstanding resources that trainees will utilize for research. In addition, we have 17 Associate Preceptors who also oversee our trainees, and are actively being trained to be our next generation of mentors. Our program also has 3 Affiliate Preceptor mentors who provide direct research supervision and research career development related to his or her areas of expertise. Our training record over the past decade reveals the success of our efforts to train leaders in academic sleep science. Of our pre- and post-doctoral trainees funded by this training grant over the last 10 years, 90% of our pre-doctoral trainees remain in academic/research-intensive careers, and 94% of our post-doctoral trainees remain in academic/research-intensive careers, with a full 75% of our post-doctoral trainees remaining in academic medicine (still in academic training or now in faculty positions). Of those still in academic medicine, almost all have a faculty rank of Assistant Professor or higher, and more than 50% have already received external grant support as PI or Co-I, with the remainder well on their way to independence. These data indicate that this training program is very effective at selecting and training scientists who have productive careers in research. Funds are requested to support four pre-doctoral graduate students, three pre-doctoral short-term summer minority medical students and eight post-doctoral trainees. Based on our highly competitive application process, we are confident these slots will be filled by outstanding future leaders. This formal program has grown and been refined over the two decades since its inception, and meets a nationally recognized need to increase the number of highly qualified investigators in sleep and circadian science and sleep disorders medicine.
Sleep and circadian rhythm disorders - which are highly prevalent and have a major impact on physical and behavioral health, safety, quality of life and longevity - disrupt the lives of an estimated 50-70 million Americans. A nationally recognized need to train more sleep and circadian rhythm researchers to accelerate fundamental scientific discoveries and translate these to clinical practice and population health initiatives has been prioritized in the current NIH National Sleep Disorders Research Plan. Our NHLBI-supported Training Program in Sleep, Circadian and Respiratory Neurobiology directly addresses this need by continuing to train a new generation of investigators, many of whom are already successfully tackling critical questions in sleep and chronobiology research.
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