Multidisciplinary Fellowship in Dementia Research

Investigator: Bruce L. Miller, MD
Sponsor: NIH National Institute on Aging

Location(s): United States


The proposed grant would support the training for postdoctoral MD and PhD trainees who are planning a career in clinical research in behavioral neurology and neurodegenerative disease. The program is led by Drs. Bruce Miller and Howard Rosen, both experienced researchers, and provides fellows with an integrated understanding of the clinical, epidemiological, genetic, and molecular features of neurodegenerative diseases. The goal of the program is to train future academic researchers.

The BNTP was established at UCSF in 1999 within the UCSF Memory and Aging Center (MAC) to train clinical researchers in behavioral neurology and neurodegenerative disease. Founded in 2004, this T32 is the only program at UCSF that allows junior researchers to gain an integrated understanding of the clinical, epidemiological, genetic, and molecular features of neurodegenerative diseases, and is one of the few programs in the world that provides intensive training on the non-Alzheimer's dementias and non-amnestic forms of AD. The goal of the program is to train postdoctoral clinical researchers for a career in neurodegenerative research. The program is open to MD neurologists, geriatricians and psychiatrists who have completed a residency. A core element of our program is accurate classification of dementia subtypes and prediction of the specific proteins causing neurodegeneration. Our training is designed to impart fellows with the skills to evaluate and quantify the effects of various proteins and other biological factors that cause dementia using clinical assessment and laboratory methods. Training takes place over two years. The first year consists of research rotations through four clinical programs at our center including our program project grant on frontotemporal dementia, our Alzheimer's disease research program, our rapidly progressive dementia program and our clinical trials program. During this year, fellows begin development of their research project with one of the program mentors and develop skills in scientific writing, presentation, and in data analysis using archival data from our clinical and imaging databases. In the second year, fellows are given more unstructured time to continue their research project and plan for grant submissions to support their future career in clinical research. Fifteen fellows have been supported directly by this T32, but the infrastructure developed through the T32 program contributes to the education of many additional postdoctoral fellows. In the upcoming cycle the training program will include improved statistical training and better access to statistical consultation, increased integration with the UCSF Division of Geriatrics, and better utilization of the training and faculty development resources maintained by the UCSF Clinical Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI). The quality and number of applicants for this T32 has grown dramatically, as has the richness of our environment. Therefore we have requested three additional training slots per year in this renewal to support three new fellows per year, and we will open the T32 program to neuropsychologists who have completed their PhD and clinical certification.