This is a revised application for a T32 institutional training grant in interdisciplinary neuroscience. The mission of the University of Southern California (USC) Neuroscience Graduate Program (NGP) is to provide an outstanding academic environment in which today's aspiring neuroscientists receive support and mentorship. This allows them to flourish in their scholarly pursuit of understanding normal and diseased nervous system structure and function. NGP faculty and administrative leadership are dedicated to the guidelines of the program, engaged in training for responsible conduct in research, and focused on recruitment of underrepresented minority, disabled and disadvantage students. The revision addresses past program weaknesses and details solutions that the program director (PD) has instituted over the past 5 years. The NGP emphasis for trainees is on developing research and science communication (verbal and writing) skills, a fundamental understanding of individual and community responsibility in the ethical pursuit of scientific inquiry, and encouraging trainee creativity and work ethic. Trainees are fully engaged in their training experience through the efforts of their student organization, the USC Neuroscience Graduate Forum (NGF). The NGF and NGP plan and implement professional development activities in ethics, career development, grant writing workshops, communication skills, student diversity recruitment, advanced technologies workshops, student symposium day and annual retreat, and advanced course planning. Student progress is tracked vigorously to ensure on time qualifying exam, research progress and graduation. All of these elements are essential for developing diverse and productive next-generation neuroscientists who will lead research efforts in academic and private sector settings. The NGP embraces the NIH mission that developing the highest caliber neuroscientists for the near and long-term future requires an emphasis on trainees gaining a focused research expertise while, at the same time, building a professional skills toolkit for maximizing their pursuit of investigating challenging questions through interdisciplinary collaboration. Training faculty research is extensive in emphasis areas of Cognitive, Computational and Systems Neuroscience, Neuroengineering, and Developmental and Cell/Molecular Neuroscience. Research across disciplines investigates mental illness, neurological disease and aging. Fifty-seven faculty of the NGP form the core of the T32 application, with an annual average of 87 trainees. Many of the training faculty joined USC and Children's Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) over the past 7 years. This reflects USC's commitment to the discipline through extensive senior and junior faculty recruitment, and the establishment of new research institutes that provide trainees with cutting edge, productive training environments. The Provost also invests in NGP training activities by funding 1st year fellowships and operations costs. The extramural support provided by the T32 for 6 requested trainees in their 2nd year of study would advance our pursuit of excellence in neuroscience doctoral training that meets the goals of the NIH.
This T32 predoctoral training program in the neurosciences at University of Southern California includes research projects that investigate the underlying mechanisms that cause neurological, mental health, developmental and aging disorders of the brain. Students in the USC Neuroscience Graduate Program will contribute to a national effort to advance the design and implementation of successful treatments, as well as prevention strategies.
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