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Postdoctoral Education

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Neural & Pain Sciences

We will foster postdoctoral training in those areas important to accomplishing our goals of providing qualified manpower to address the shortage of faculty in our dental schools and to increase the number of scientists doing research in oral health-related disciplines. The curriculum for postdoctoral trainees, which is based on a two-year model, actually represents an expansion of the short-term training program. We will encourage integration between the basic and clinical sciences by requiring all of our trainees to gain experience in both clinical and basic science research.

Our first priority of postdoctoral fellows is to introduce them to cutting edge research and provide the necessary training to become an independent investigator in one of the four thematic areas supported in this training program. Upon arrival, the postdoctoral trainee and mentor will develop an initial plan around this primary goal in the form of an Independent Development Process (IDP) to track progress and mentor-mentee relationships in the program. As soon as the postdoctoral fellow becomes familiar with the laboratory and starts contributing to the research objectives of the principal investigator, other activities will be scheduled. The following description suggests how a program might develop. The nature of the research, the aptitude and goals of the fellow and other variables will certainly result in different timetables. It will be the responsibility of the Postdoctoral Training Committee to oversee the development of the trainee.

Fellows will be encouraged to participate in training any short-term trainees assigned to the laboratory. Activities might include teaching basic laboratory skills, describing methods for keeping notebooks, and leading informal discussions about the significance of the work. This training will be performed under the guidance of the primary mentor, but the postdoc fellow will receive credit for the mentoring opportunity.

Interdisciplinary activities will be scheduled to familiarize the fellow with all aspects of the training program. This includes attendance and participation in seminars and grand round activities. Basic science postdoctoral trainees will be expected to participate in clinical activities such as grand rounds and make plans to participate at some level in clinical research relevant to their areas of interest. Clinical researchers will be expected to attend basic science research seminars and schedule specific time to participate in basic science laboratory experiments. Whenever feasible, appropriate clinical and basic science rotations will be established. Ideally this will open an avenue for fertile integration of basic and clinical topics and drive new collaborative efforts.

Improvements of basic communication skills will also be encouraged. Courses in writing skills and, for permanent residents from foreign countries, courses in English as a Second Language (ESL) are available through the Writing Center at the campus level. Finally, we will expect postdoctoral fellows to participate in courses that provide them with the basics of bioethics and responsible conduct in science. They will be expected to enroll in one of the several Bioethics courses available on our campus. Other training seminars and sessions necessary for certain areas of research will also be included in this planning (e.g., campus radiation safety).

The postdoctoral trainee will also be encouraged to participate in the University Postdoc Network organized in response to the growing recognition at the local and national level of the need to address career development for all postdoctoral fellows. The activities of the Network include: help with relocating, orientation, special seminars relevant to career development, social activities, and program evaluation.