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Training in Emerging Multidisciplinary Approaches to Mental Health and Disease

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The Training in Emerging Multidisciplinary Approaches to Mental Health and Disease (TEAM HEAD) represents the evolution of a ten year old training program that has focused on training postdoctoral fellows in the area of psychiatric genetics. This renewal application contains several substantial changes and improvements. First, we are proposing a change of leadership. Specifically, Drs. Abraham Palmer and Nancy Cox (multiple-PIs) will replace Dr. Elliot Gershon, who has served as Program Director for the last 10 years. Dr. Gershon, who is now in his 70s, continues to run an active research lab, but is stepping down as Program Director. He will remain on the executive committee and will provide advice to Drs. Palmer and Cox to assure a smooth transition. Dr. Nancy Cox has been a co-I since the training program's inception and will be particularly involved in determining the program's curriculum; Dr. Palmer will also have significant intellectual input and will be responsible for day-to-day operations. Second, for the past ten years this training program has only had two postdoctoral slots, making it unusually small and preventing it from obtaining a critical mass. Thus, we are proposing to substantially expand the program by increasing the number of postdoctoral slots from 2 to 4. Furthermore, we are adding four slots for graduate students, who will apply for support at the beginning of their second year, once they have joined the lab of one of our training faculty and selected a project that is within the scope of this training program. Third, the focus of the training program has been broadened and refocused with an eye towards meeting the demands that the next generation of scientist will face in the coming decades. For example, there is a much greater emphasis on statistical and computational approaches, which is complimented by close integration with a recently funded Conte Center for Computational Systems Genomics of Neuropsychiatric Phenotypes and the developing Grossman Institute. Additional training faculty, particularly from the Department of Human Genetics, have been recruited to meet the new goals of the program. The overall size of the training faculty has almost doubled as a result of these changes. Students will be supported for 2 years. The number of slots is based on the extremely high quality pool of applicants at both the pre- and post-doctoral levels. Pre-doctoral students will be drawn from a variety of relevant departments and graduate programs. The University of Chicago provides a unique environment with a long history of interdisciplinary collaboration that will benefit the trainees. The scientific interactions among the trainees will be extensive, and will be enhanced by inclusion of a larger cohort of both pre- and post-doctoral students. Formal mechanisms will include student work-in-progress and journal club presentations, trainee- invited speakers, and didactic classes that will be re-structured as full-day retreats and will include a social luncheon. Expanded and appropriate efforts will be made with regard to recruitment of underrepresented minorities and training in ethical conduct of research.
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