This is a renewal application from the University of California San Diego (UC San Diego), in conjunction with two neighboring institutions (the Sanford-Burnham-Prebys Institute, the Salk Institute), for a 5-year renewal of the Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) program, in response to the RFA-AG-20-008. Over the past 15 years we have trained 239 students from across the country, including 66% from ethnic minority groups, with 14% from URM and 59% women. 30% eligible students from the most recent funding period published at least one peer-reviewed article and 74% students gave a poster presentation. After graduation, all our trainees have continued residency in major programs; several are pursuing academic careers in aging research including Alzheimer?s disease and related dementias (ADRD) and geriatrics. The proposed program is designed to expand the pipeline of new physician investigators in the field of aging, especially ADRD. It will provide full-time support for 8-12 consecutive weeks of research and clinical training during summer, provided by faculty to 18 medical students per year from across the country. We will make special efforts to recruit medical students from underrepresented racial or ethnic minority groups, trainees with disabilities, and those from disadvantaged backgrounds. All trainees will spend the summer in San Diego, working under the supervision of some of the finest molecular, translational, and clinical scientists with outstanding track records of NIA- and other federal funding and of research training of medical students. A primary focus of our program will be on aging well in the context of age-associated disorders and disabilities with a major emphasis on prevention, identification, and management of cognitive impairment and ADRD. Strengths of our faculty range from basic and molecular biology to clinical, epidemiologic, and therapeutic research on aging and age-related disorders, especially ADRD and other diseases associated with cognitive impairment like cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and depression. The most important aspects of this program will be hands-on research experience and development of a long-term mentoring relationship. In addition, a combination of didactics and clinical exposure to geriatrics especially patients with ADRD, will reinforce the skills learned in the direct research experience. The trainees will give an oral presentation at a workshop at UCSD held in early August, with the goal of presenting a formal poster at the annual meeting of the American Geriatrics Society and developing a publishable manuscript within a year. An Executive Committee will oversee the recruitment and training of the students. There will be a rigorous and extensive evaluation of the program by trainees, participating faculty, and other stakeholders including long-term follow-up. A website will be used to facilitate continued communication among the trainees and their mentors.
There is a dire need for physician scientists in geriatrics and aging research. This research training program is intended to increase the number and diversity of medical students who have interest and experience in research relevant to aging. The goal is to help develop the research workforce that is needed to meet the needs of our rapidly aging society.
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