The Center for Learning and Memory (CLM) at the University of Texas at Austin is an organized research unit that brings together researchers whose goal is to identify the neural mechanisms of learning and memory. The CLM has grown to include fifteen faculty, all hired since its inception in 2005. Given this growth, the highly interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of the CLM faculty, and the major University commitment to this research field, we believe all key elements are in place to implement an innovative and active training program in learning and memory. The CLM faculty represent a broad range of approaches to the mechanisms of learning and memory - from the molecules of neural information processing and synaptic plasticity to cellular and systems level studies to functional neuroimaging in humans. We will leverage the strengths of this collaborative faculty along with innovative and comprehensive training activities to implement a program that prepares graduate students and postdoctoral trainees to become innovative leaders in the future of learning and memory research. The proposed training has four important components. First, we will provide our trainees with hands-on instruction in the implementation of interdisciplinary approaches to the study of learning and memory that cross levels of analysis. Second, we will provide extensive training in computational neuroscience methods that are increasingly necessary to understanding the neural mechanisms that support learning and memory. Third, the proposed activities will provide our trainees with the ability to place their research in a biomedical contet, with a particular emphasis on the role of learning and memory processes in disorders of mental health. Finally, the proposed activities and resources provide our trainees with many opportunities for career development including the skills necessary to obtain a tenure track position (e.g., presentation and grant writing skills) as well as exposure to research-related careers outside of academia. These components will prepare our trainees to be the next generation of leading edge researchers dedicated to uncovering the neural mechanisms that support our ability to acquire new information and remember past experiences.

Public Health Relevance

The goal of the proposed training program is to offer the highest caliber pre- and postdoctoral training to position our students to become innovative leaders in the field of learning and memory. Impairments in learning and memory are characteristic of several mental health disorders, including schizophrenia, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. As such, there remains an urgent need to understand the brain mechanisms that underlie learning and memory in an effort to aid the development of effective treatment interventions for psychiatric and neurological disorders that require acquisition and maintenance of new behaviors. The skills required to obtain this goal is increasingly involve complex and state-of-the-art techniques, including cross-disciplinary experimental approaches and sophisticated computational techniques. The strengths of the talented and highly collaborative CLM faculty match these needs and are well suited to train the next generation of scientists that will lead this field in the 21st century.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Institutional National Research Service Award (T32)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZMH1)
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Driscoll, Jamie
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University of Texas Austin
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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