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.