We request continued support for a training grant for advanced (3rd-5th year) students in the well-established Columbia University-wide Doctoral Program in Neurobiology and Behavior. Support for five students is requested. The impetus for initiating and continuing this training program is the desire to provide the best possible preparation of our students to fulfill productive careers that draw on their scientific training. I particular, we will support a cadre of students carrying out cross-disciplinary research that has translational significance and relevance to neurological diseases. We will further favor and encourage such research that is directed by co-mentors with different experimental expertise. In addition, we will provide out-of-laboratory training of these and other students in the program via a continuing course in Professional Skills and a course in Biology of Neurologic and Psychiatric Disorders. We will also add several new added value components to the program via an association with the newly inaugurated Columbia Translational Neuroscience Initiative (CTNI). The CTNI is dedicated to serving as an umbrella organization to coordinate and enhance basic and translational neuroscience research at Columbia. Aside from the benefits conferred by its overall mission, the CTNI will specifically organize and run a mentored data presentation forum that our supported students will participate in along with other doctoral and post-doctoral trainees. It will also offer our students presentations by clinical faculty of patiens with neurological disorders. These training opportunities are designed to be leveraged so that they benefit our supported trainees as well as other neuroscience-oriented students at Columbia. The program initially will be directed by the current PD Lloyd Greene, and a co-PD, Gil Di Paolo. Dr. Greene will phase out after the first year of the renewal period and Dr. Di Paolo will become sole PD. This arrangement is designed to permit a smooth transition of the program leadership. The program will have 52 mentors at both junior and senior levels who work in area of relevance to translational neuroscience. Oversight will be provided by the directors of the overall Neurobiology and Behavior program, by an outside committee and by feedback from current and past students supported by the program. In the first 4 years of the program, 11 students have been supported with mentorship/co-mentorship by 13 different faculties. Publication records, thesis completion, retention rates, success in gaining outside support, continuation in science careers, increasing numbers of qualified and co-mentored applicants, and student feedback all indicate that the program is meeting its goals. This and additional considerations support the request to increase the number of supported students to five from the current number of four.
The goal of the proposed program is to support training of advanced graduate students to prepare them for successful and productive careers in neuroscience research that is relevant to translational neuroscience. We anticipate that students so trained will make important future contributions to understanding the causes of, and finding treatments for, disorders of the nervous system.
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