NIMH Research Training Program in Childhood-onset Neuropsychiatric Disorders

Program Director: James F. Leckman
Co-Director: Elena L. Grigorenko


The two-year program is designed to provide patient-oriented research training to an interdisciplinary group of post-doctoral fellows interested in a broad range of scientific disciplines relevant to childhood-onset neurobiological disorders. These disorders are largely the result of complex interactions between genomic vulnerability and environmental factors occurring over the course of brain development. The long-term objective of this program is to increase the number of innovative of interdisciplinary investigators entering this field. A major focus of the training is the promote dialogue across disciplines and to emphasize the importance of interdisciplinary teams. Specifically, we seek to support the development of the next generation of translational researchers who are committed to the discovery of disease-relevant genes, key environmental factors, biomarkers (using techniques from genomics, proteomics, neuroimmunology, and neuroimaging), and the development and dissemination of novel treatments and preventive interventions. The determination of how and why specific interventions are effective is another goal.


Major features of this program include

  1. Preceptor-directed research training that brings together established investigators in child psychiatry, pediatrics, clinical and developmental psychology, the developmental neurosciences with a focus on developing animal models, human genetics, molecular biology, brain imaging, evidence-based medicine, epidemiology, services research, and social policy with an outstanding group of post-doctoral fellows from a broad range of clinical and scientific backgrounds who are committed to pursuing academic careers in patient-oriented research; and
  2. A core curriculum that focuses on the skills necessary to achieve the status of an independent investigator including: formal training in research design and biostatistics; mastery of the knowledge base concerning the neuropsychiatric disorders of childhood onset [autism, mental retardation syndromes (fragile X syndrome, Down syndrome), learning disabilities, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, Tourette's syndrome, and obsessive-compulsive disorder]; the protection of human subjects and the need for safeguards to ensure the integrity of the research enterprise; and the acquisition to the skills needed to prepare and critique original articles and research grant applications. The successful matching of individual faculty preceptors with post-doctoral fellows lies at the heart of this research training program.