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Neurorehabilitation and Restorative Neuroscience Network

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The paucity of NIH-funded Phase III rehabilitation clinical trials is prima facie evidence that, despite multiple cycles of taxpayer funding, the incumbent K12 programs have fallen short in their mission of translating science into treatments for patients. We emphasize the K12 RFA?s first Background sentence: ?Despite the increasing population of individuals coping with chronic disabilities at various levels, the field of medical rehabilitation has not responded sufficiently to the need for research to validate approaches, optimize treatments, and incorporate new technologies and opportunities.? Existing programs are inwardly focused and mired in supporting historical academic and clinical silos. They do not prioritize the research needs of patients or the training needed to develop investigators equipped to overcome complex disabling disorders. We intend a different approach. First, we will include all clinical disciplines, and simply recruit the best scholars. Second, we will focus on a single group of disorders: disabling chronic neurological disorders. Thus, we target a multilevel scientific approach (from molecules to outcomes), all directed at the problem of nervous system recovery and not a clinical credential. Third, we will blend the best of old and new by pairing excellent and traditional university-based training settings with more contemporary excellent healthcare delivery training settings based in nonprofit health systems. Fourth, we have assembled a leadership team composed of successful translational neuroscience/neurorehabilitation investigators with a track record of interdisciplinary research training. These individuals are national leaders, and each has a wide network for recruiting scholars and mentors nationally. Finally, we increase efficiency by reducing travel barriers with a geographically compact network and maximize trainee productivity by including an executive coaching program. Alexander Dromerick, MD and Barbara Bregman, PT, PhD are Program Directors. The coordinating site is Georgetown University and affiliated National Rehabilitation Hospital. Other primary sites: John Hopkins /Kennedy Krieger Institute (Bastian), Harvard (Schlaug), Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions (Connor), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Krebs), University of Maryland/Kernan (Wittenberg), and Cornell/Burke Rehabilitation Hospital (Ratan). We will provide the strongest possible interdisciplinary mentorship and training for the early career development of these K12 scholars from all neurorehabilitation disciplines in an educational environment that promotes strong interactions between basic and clinical research to develop effective interventions to promote functional recovery after neurological injuries. We will support 4 faculty scholars yearly,(2-3 years each); they will remain engaged in the K12 program activities for 5 years as they transition to independent faculty positions. Together with their local primary mentor, each scholar develops an individual career development plan that includes research training, coursework, manuscript and grant writing support with specific timelines and benchmarks for progress.
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