The Training Program in Neural Injury and Plasticity (NIP) grew from the Center for Neural Injury and Recovery (CNIR) and represents a unique and highly collaborative endeavor at Georgetown University (GU). Since its inception in 2001, the NIP Training Program has provided support for 28 predoctoral students during their thesis period and six postdoctoral trainees. A total of 21 of our predoctoral trainees have already successfully earned their Ph.D.'s, and current trainees are on-track to continue the program’s 100% PhD completion rate. Most of our predoctoral students are enrolled in the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience (IPN) at Georgetown University and represent a highly competitive group of applicants.
The NIP faculty act as thesis mentors, rotation mentors and/or lecturers in elective and required courses for IPN students. Furthermore, a key aspect of the NIP training program was and will continue to be that students are encouraged to have co-mentors such that their research represents collaborations among the laboratories of the training faculty. The NIP Training Program provides opportunities for students to rotate in laboratories that use a myriad of approaches to study neural injury and plasticity from molecular mechanisms to human/clinical studies. The training faculty range from those studying molecular alterations that lead to neurodegenerative diseases to those developing improved training protocols for stroke patents, from those studying synaptic function in brain slices and primary neurons in vitro to those examining synaptic plasticity in clinically relevant animal models of spinal cord contusion and traumatic brain injury. Likewise, the techniques used range from detailed anatomical and behavioral evaluation of functional regeneration, to the use of fMRI to investigate functional plasticity in patients and state of the art molecular techniques. Finally, because of the close alignment of faculty interests the NIP Training Program promotes co-mentoring of students. This facilitates collaboration between laboratories and guides our younger faculty in mentoring of graduate students.
Key aspects of the mission of the CNIR and NIP program remain to:
- Enhance basic research on the fundamental mechanisms of injury and recovery through collaborative research efforts.
- Develop novel and effective therapies for acute and chronic nervous system injuries.
- Facilitate interactions between basic scientists and clinicians.
- Develop training programs for young scientists who will carry on research in neural injury and recovery in the future.
Predoctoral trainees in Neural Injury and Plasticity (NIP) will be selected in the Spring semester of their second year in the Ph.D. program based on their potential for outstanding research in Neural Injury and Plasticity. The criteria will include: 1) excellent performance in their graduate course work; 2) the recommendations of training faculty through whose laboratories the applicant has rotated; 3) a proposal for thesis research in an area relevant to neural injury/plasticity with a mentor or co-mentors from among the training faculty; and 4) the recommendation of the Training Committee of the Program for Neural Injury and Plasticity.
As thesis research students, the trainees will be supervised by a thesis committee that includes their research mentors and other scientists, as specified by the Ph.D. Program from which the degree will be earned. In addition, Dr. Kathy Maguire-Zeiss, the NIP Program Director, or one of the members of the NIP Advisory Board will serve on the Thesis Committee of each predoctoral trainee. This committee will review the students progress at approximately 12 month intervals.
The NIP training program also includes:
- Participation in the Neural Injury and Plasticity Journal Club that meets weekly throughout the Fall and Spring semesters at noon on Fridays.
- Clinical Experiences - Guided visits to relevant clinical service at GU Hospital or the National Rehabilitation Hospital to provide exposure to the clincal aspect of neural injury and recovery.
- Monthly meetings to discuss topics in neural injuy and recovery.
- Professional development activities (grant writing workshops, elevator pitches).
NIH requires all Trainees to have instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research and our trainees must complete "Survival Skills and Ethics for Emerging Scientists" (NSCI-532) offered here at Georgetown. We also continue this important aspect of research education in our Journal Club where once a semester trainees lead discussions on topics related to the Responsible Conduct of Research.
Information for applicants for the Neural Injury & Plasticity Training program
Predoctoral trainees in Neural Injury and Plasticity (NIP) will be selected once they have completed their coursework and have committed to a thesis laboratory. This usually occurs in the Spring semester of their second year in the Ph.D. program. Trainees are selected based on their potential for outstanding research in Neural Injury and plasticity. The NIH NIP Training Grant will provide additional training opportunities in Neural Injury and Plasticity including clinically relevant experiences, seminars, monthly meetings with current and previous trainees, and a journal club. Trainees will also receive an NIH level stipend (see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-06-026.html ) as well as support for health insurance and certain other expenses (e.g., some travel and supply support), for the period of the award. GUMC provides additional stipend support to predoctoral fellows to bring the total to the standard amount for Georgetown. The Mentor(s) need to provide support for research supplies. NIP trainees are supported for up to 2 years. In order to apply for this fellowship, a student must be a US citizen or green card holder and have:
- demonstrated proficiency in graduate course work
- completed at least one elective didactic course focusing on disorders and diseases of the nervous system [e.g., Molecular Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration (NSCI-558); Gene Transfer for Neurological Disorders (NSCI-495)];
- completed pre-thesis rotations;
- identified a thesis mentor(s) who is among the NIP training faculty
- developed a thesis project focused on an area relevant to neural injury/plasticity;
- successfully completed written and oral comprehensive exams for the student’s graduate program - the comprehensive exams must be completed prior to the beginning of the award period.
In addition, NIH requires all Trainees to have instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research: completion of, "Survival Skills and Ethics for Emerging Scientists" (NSCI-
532) at Georgetown meets this requirement or documentation of appropriate instruction at another institution.
Trainee selection is based on:
- excellent performance in graduate course work;
- the recommendations of training faculty through whose laboratories the applicant has rotated;
- evaluation of a proposal for thesis research (see below for details) in an area relevant to neural injury/plasticity with a mentor or co-mentors from among the
- training faculty;
- the recommendation of the mentor(s);
- the recommendation of the Training Committee of the Program for Neural Injury and Plasticity.
As thesis research students, trainees will be supervised by a thesis committee that includes their research mentors and other scientists, as specified by the Ph.D. Program
from which the degree will be earned. In addition, Dr. Kathy Maguire-Zeiss, the NIP Program Director or one of the NIP advisory faculty will serve on the Thesis
Committee of each trainee. This committee will review the student’s progress at approximately 6 month intervals. Trainees are required to participate in the NIP training program which includes:
- participation in the Neural Injury and Plasticity Journal Club that meets weekly throughout the Fall and Spring semesters at noon on Fridays;
- clinical experiences - Guided visits to relevant clinical service at GU Hospital or the National Rehabilitation Hospital to provide exposure to the clincal aspect of neural injury and recovery;
- monthly meetings to discuss topics in neural injuy and recovery;
- professional development activities (grant writing workshops, elevator pitches).
During the fellowship training period students are expected to submit a grant proposal (e.g., foundation; NRSA) on their research topic on neural injury and plasticity.
Trainees are required to submit a yearly Progress Report to the Neural Injury and Plasticity Training Program.
DUE DATES FOR APPICATIONS WILL BE ANNOUNCED.
Title of Research Project:
1) a copy of your undergraduate and graduate transcripts and GRE scores;
2) a list of research rotation topics and the laboratories in which they were performed;
3) a letter of support from your mentor(s);
4) NIH biosketches for you and your mentor(s) including Other Support;
5) Proposal and signature page (see below)
PROPOSAL: (please do not exceed 4 pages; include an Abstract, Specific Aims, Research Plan and Personal Statement describing why you are interested in the NIP training program)
Please complete and submit as a single PDF to:
Dr. Kathy Maguire-Zeiss
Director, NIP Training Program
Department of Neuroscience
EP-08 Research Building