The Stanford Neuroscience Training Program remains the only doctoral degree granting entity for Neuroscience at Stanford. This interdisciplinary program consists of 91 students and 99 faculty from 28 departments (11 clinical, 17 basic scientists) and 4 schools. The breadth of departments illustrates the breadth of research areas which span molecular/cellular to systems and behavior, from human cognition to translational work. The training grant and its implementation is the central funding source, with 14 slots, and the foundation of the program. Our mission is to identify, recruit and train predoctoral PhD students to become the next generation of leaders in neuroscience at all societal levels. This training plan has four components: curriculum, research, mentoring and leadership, typically accomplished in under 6 years. The curriculum uses best practices in teaching to provide a foundation in neuroscience that allows for the rigorous identification of a scientific question, design, implementation and analysis of a research project culminating in an independent publication. A core module system challenges students to learn how different fields approach scientific problems. Students participate in journal clubs, a recurring responsible conduct and ethics course, and higher- level courses specifically governed by the interests and needs of each individual student. Research begins with rigorous and challenging rotations that allow students to explore new research areas and new technologies. From these rotations, students select a research laboratory to do their thesis work that is supervised by a faculty mentor and committee of experts. Training in experimental design, rigorous data collection and statistical analysis, is achieved through both didactic course work and direct application to their own work. Our mentoring approach is that it takes a village. From day 1 students have a First Year advisor and a senior student advisor. After selecting a laboratory students have a personal faculty mentor as well as a committee of advocates. They also have access to a senior advisory panel of faculty and both individual and group focused peer-mentoring groups. And finally, leadership includes involvement in directing all aspects of the program as student representatives on all committees as well as TAs for major courses, designing and teaching neuroscience courses and engaging in university and community outreach such as Brain Day and Stanford Summer Research Program. Within each component, we include elements for professional development like reading, critically evaluating and writing scientific papers, preparing and presenting scientific presentations to both professional and lay audiences, networking both academically and in industry as well as professional interactions related to biases such as gender, socioeconomic and race. The program's infrastructure combines faculty, student and administrative feedback on all major levels. There is a program committee, chaired by the director that oversees all infrastructure, an admissions and curriculum committee, used to oversee these two major undertakings and an informal advisory committee that includes other university leadership.
Funding is requested for the continued support of a broad, interdisciplinary and translational training program for PhD students in neurosciences. Our program prepares students for a career in neuroscience, whether it be academic or industrial, by providing access to cutting edge technologies in the laboratories of highly successful and integrative investigators. The diversity of research topics, the availability of novel technologies, the highly collaborative nature of the program, the innovative approach to curriculum and the success of the current faculty are unique to the Stanford Neuroscience Program.
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