Through a T32 training program from National Institute of Mental health, the University of Pittsburgh (UPitt) Bioengineering in Psychiatry Training Program aims at educating talented students with background in engineering and other quantitative sciences for careers in mental health research. This training program capitalizes on the breadth of bioengineering in psychiatry research at UPitt and provides students with access to the clinical presentation and treatment of psychiatric disorders. This training program also promotes certain critical elements of the NIMH strategic vision namely developing new tools from the BRAIN initiative, applying computational approaches that may provide novel ways to understand relationships among datasets and develop new and competing applications targeting the NIMH research priority areas.
PhD trainees take foundational courses in bioengineering, cognitive and computational neuroscience, psychopathology, and ethics that are complemented by electives providing depth and breadth. In addition to didactic coursework, students are exposed to clinical environments via a longitudinal clinical experience and two 1-week intensive clinical observerships. A diverse group of research-active mentors comprised of basic scientists, clinicians, and engineers serve as advisors where 1 mentor from each department will serve as the principle co-advisor for the training program of the mentee in order to guide the student in his/her doctoral research efforts. Finally, students participate in several program-specific activities throughout their graduate school years, designed to enhance interactions and exchange of information (student-student and student-faculty) and to facilitate professional and career development.
There are three integrated focus areas of this pre-doctoral training program: (1) Neuroimaging, (2) Neurostimulation, and (3) Neural Engineering. All of these tracks are heavily utilized in a wide variety of mental health research including mood disorder, anxiety disorder, psychotic disorder, suicide, and cognitive impairment. There is currently a critical mass of researchers at Pitt addressing these disorders. Other psychiatric conditions not covered here (e.g., eating disorders) would also be included, if an appropriate mentor team could be formed.
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