This is a proposal for a new T32 training program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). This is a focused program for predoctoral students in basic and translational approaches to neurodegenerative disease. The rationale for establishing this new program is founded on three critical factors: 1) The aging of the US population, which will soon lead to growth in the numbers of patients affected by neurodegenerative disease, 2) Rapid advances in tools and technologies in the neurosciences, and 3) The increasing interest in neurosciences as a discipline by PhD students. A primary goal of this Training Program is to achieve cross- cultural training; we seek to expose students to the biological mechanisms and research approaches used across neurodegenerative disease, rather than the kind of single-disease training they might get working in an individual research laboratory. This program will provide support for advanced pre-doctoral students in the research phase of their training. Most students will enter the Neurodegeneration Training Program from the UAB Graduate Biomedical Science Program, which admits about 80 students annually, or the UAB Medical Scientist Training Program, which admits 8 students annually. Planned duration of appointment to the training program is two years for each student. A total of 2 slots are requested in Year 1, and 4 slots in subsequent years. Students will work under the supervision of one of 24 highly qualified mentors. Three of these are junior mentors, and there are plans for mentor development and co-mentoring. The program incorporates required didactic course work in neurodegeneration in both the first and second years, a newly developed formal course in experimental rigor, training in new tools and technologies, instruction in the translational pathway and drug development, a journal club on Neurodegeneration, an annual retreat, and mentor and outcomes evaluations. Our core philosophy is that we seek to enable the cures of the future by providing a robust training pathway in translational research. This unique emphasis will enable our students to take leading roles in therapeutic discovery across the spectrum of different skills sets and enterprises which are required to deliver the vitally needed treatments of the future.
The aging of the US population will lead to unprecedented growth in the number of people affected by neurodegenerative disease. The UAB Training Program in Neurodegeneration will address this problem by training scientists in cross-cultural research on neurodegeneration, so that they can leverage the emerging knowledge in this field and develop the cures of the future for these common and serious disorders.
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