West Virginia University is committed to training a new generation of health care providers and scholars and recently received support from the National Institute on Aging to expand a pre-doctoral training program in stroke research. WVU’s Center for Basic and Translational Stroke Research received a grant award from the National Institute on Aging for total of nearly $1.4 million over five years.
“West Virginia has one of the highest incidences of stroke in the nation, and currently therapies to limit stroke damage are limited,” said James Simpkins, Ph.D., professor in the departments of Physiology and Pharmacology and Neurology and director of the West Virginia University Research Center for Basic and Translational Stroke Research. “To optimize the impact of our research on the discovery of new preventions, treatments and rehabilitation methods for stroke, we need to train the next generation of stroke researchers to assess stroke in the context of the affected patent population: those who are elderly and have multiple co-morbid conditions.”
This pre-doctoral training program will create a new generation of young scholars who can address the need for innovative stroke research for the citizens of West Virginia and the nation.
“Our laboratory’s research is focused on understanding the neural mechanisms which control and coordinate movement and how those mechanisms may be damaged due to stroke,” said Russell Hardesty, a doctoral student Eighy Four, Pennsylvania, studying in WVU’s Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute. “To accomplish this goal, we combine physiological recordings with computer and mathematical modeling in human participants. By gaining an understanding of the underlying neural mechanisms, which dictate both healthy and impaired movement, we can better design novel technologies and therapeutic techniques to improve rehabilitative approaches and motor recovery for stroke survivors.”
The training program includes doctoral students from the participating Biomedical Sciences Training programs at the WVU Health Sciences Center and will prepare them with the skills, knowledge and acumen needed for a successful career in stroke research.
“Participating in this training program is an exciting opportunity to complement current graduate curriculum with additional perspectives regarding neuroscience, aging, and stroke,” said Savannah Sims, a doctoral student from Fairmont, West Virginia, studying in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology. “The clinical immersion component of the grant will be a unique opportunity as a basic sciences graduate student. Understanding clinical decision-making will provide an unparalleled chance to develop my aptitude as an innovative neuroimmunology researcher.”
The specific training for each of six mentees will be tailored based on their annually updated Individualized Development Plan (IDP) and an “Exploring Career Paths” Program will help prepare them for their chosen career. The program training is expected to last between two to three years.
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