The Interdisciplinary Program in Neurosciences (IPN) at Georgetown University is a broad-based, non- departmental program that leads to a PhD in Neuroscience. The IPN was established in 1994 and supported by the NIH from 2001 to 2015. The primary goal of this training program is to develop ?Stewards of the Discipline? by training students in the scholarly pursuit of research in integrative neuroscience. The 25 core training faculty and 19 supporting faculty in this application are drawn from nine clinical and basic science departments on the Main Campus and Medical Center, contiguous campuses in Washington, DC. The IPN faculty span a breadth of inquiry; the core faculty are split evenly between cellular/molecular and cognitive sciences, with several researchers collaborating across these disciplines. IPN students are very successful, publishing an average of 4.7 papers from their thesis training, with 2.3 as first author. Students average 5.3 years to defense, with a median time of 5 years. Training Grant funds are requested to support prethesis training (4 slots each for first and second years), while Georgetown University supports additional students in prethesis training (4 slots each for first and second years). The support was greatly increased over the last two years in the absence of training grant funding. Institutional support also covers recruitment, a seminar series, a program retreat, and bridge funds for thesis students. Two NIH training grants provide additional thesis research training. The IPN consists of 40-50 thesis and prethesis students. Aggressive recruitment of applicants from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups have been successful (currently 32% of students), and continues to be a top priority. IPN students benefit from the collaborative nature of our faculty: over 70% of student publications have more than one IPN faculty member. The recent recruitments of neuroscience faculty into the Departments of Pharmacology & Physiology, Psychology, Neurology, and Biology have expanded the equipment, facilities and faculty expertise available to the training program. The training program includes broad-based didactic coursework with increased emphasis on quantitative aspects of inquiry and the rigor of scientific approaches. The trainees participate in a seminar series, national professional meetings, journal clubs, intensive laboratory research, and training in several essential professional skills (writing and reviewing manuscripts, grantsmanship, mentorship, teaching, conflict resolution, career choices, oral presentations) and their ethical dimensions. Students are also very active in governance of the IPN. Opportunities to explore career options are developed throughout the graduate career, particularly with the establishment of a new graduate Office of Career Strategy and Professional Development. Upon graduation, 60-70% of IPN students pursue post-doctoral research training; 11 of them (since 2005) have earned tenure track faculty positions (with more progressing quickly on research active tracks). Approximately 15% go into careers related to science policy and administration, based largely on our location in the nation's capital and the proximity of the NIH.

Public Health Relevance

The goal of the proposed training program is to prepare students for careers as highly creative, inquisitive and productive scientists. We seek to provide the trainees, who are pursuing their PhD in Neuroscience, with broad-based interdisciplinary training relevant to understanding a variety of diseases and disorders of the nervous system. Through didactic coursework, laboratory research, career development training, and instruction in the responsible conduct of research, the students supported through this training mechanism will be poised to make important contributions to preventing and curing a spectrum of neurological and psychiatric disorders, such as autism, epilepsy, schizophrenia, dementias, communicative disorders, and addiction.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Institutional National Research Service Award (T32)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZNS1)
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Weigand, Letitia Alexis
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Georgetown University
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