This program is focused on leveraging two new and innovative developments in medicine and clinical science to enhance the pre-doctoral training of psychologists to make breakthroughs in understanding, preventing, and treating severe psychopathology. One development, the NIH initiative to foster clinical translational science (CTS), is motivated by the unmet critical need to move clinically-relevant scientific discoveries along the translational pipeline-from basic science to controlled research with clinical populations to dissemination and implementation-in order to make a substantive public mental health impact. A second development, the NIMH Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) initiative, is motivated by the critical need to develop multi-dimensional, multi-unit of analysis approaches to understanding psychopathology. Advances in clinical psychological science will come from those with expertise at the intersection of these two NIH-driven developments. The ultimate goal of this program is to maximize the likelihood of producing independent clinical research scientists and leaders with expertise in cutting-edge translational research designs, frameworks, and methodologies that will usher in breakthroughs in the identification of mental illness mechanisms, prevention, and treatment. Funds are requested to support six pre-doctoral trainees per year. Unique training opportunities center around four basic aims for the trainees: (1) gain exposure to foundational concepts, theories, and methodologies, as well as exemplars of both CTS and multiple units of analysis informed by the RDoC; (2) apply this integrated framework to research addressing a public health issue; (3) learn to foster collaborative opportunities that stretch the boundaries of research both along the CTS continuum and across multiple units of analysis; and, (4) develop professionally to continue this innovative line of research eventually as an independent clinical scientist. Trainees begin their intensive training by identifying a public health issue on which to focus their research efforts.
These aims are then realized through: (a) structured research activities under the dual mentorship of a primary and a stretch mentor (designed to extend the research either along the CTS continuum or across a unit of analysis); (b) dual research mentoring of the trainee leading to submission of an NRSA application; (c) peer, advanced trainee, and expert guidance and feedback on their research through participation in a year-long seminar; (d) tailored doctoral qualifying examinations; (e) coursework and advanced seminars focused on addressing mental health issues within the CTS and RDoC frameworks; (f) workshops in professional development, responsible conduct of research, and grant writing; and (g) colloquia series, retreats, and conference attendance to encourage networking and collaborative opportunities. Trainees work with their dual mentors to design an individualized program of study in combination with the activities listed above, culminating in completion of a doctoral minor in clinical translational psychological science.
This program will provide innovative and comprehensive predoctoral research training at the intersection of clinical translational science and the researc domain criteria using a dual mentorship model. Six psychology trainees per year will receive structured applied experiences, didactics, seminars, and workshops from both core and stretch faculty with a specific focus on the development of a clinical translational program of research, grant writing, and professional development.
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