Miami Project Researchers Receive NIH Summer Training Grant

Kim Anderson-Erisman, Ph.D., research associate professor of neurological surgery and Director of Education at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, and W. Dalton Dietrich, Ph.D., Scientific Director of The Miami Project, the Kinetic Concepts Distinguished Chair in Neurosurgery, Senior Associate Dean for Discovery Science and professor of neurological surgery, recently received a five-year summer training grant from the National Institutes of Health to provide undergraduate research experiences to up to 12 students each summer.

Anderson-Erisman and Dietrich recognize the need to recruit scientists into the field of neurotrauma research as traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury are both significant causes of permanent paralysis in the United States. They also are acutely aware that research opportunities are often very difficult for undergraduate students to obtain, but essential to providing them the skills and encouragement they’ll need to pursue careers in the health-related sciences. Funded opportunities for undergraduate researchers are scarce, limiting not only their exposure, but also their willingness to pursue scientific careers.

This grant will support a competitive neurotrauma-focused summer research program hosted by multidisciplinary laboratories at The Miami Project. As a University-designated Center of Excellence for studying and developing therapeutic approaches for repair of central nervous system injury caused by neurotrauma, The Miami Project is well positioned to help train and introduce young minds to the neurosciences.

The diverse team of research mentors who will participate in this program, which will center on everything from neuroprotection to cell replacement to regeneration to neurorehabilitation, will provide each student with a unique summer project related to a specific neurotraumatic condition, while advancing the aims of currently funded parent programs and accelerating the pace of scientific advancement.

The structured learning program involving faculty, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows will introduce undergraduate students to the processes involved in developing a project, and testing a hypothesis using the standard scientific approach. Students will not only be exposed practically and theoretically to scientific research, but also will participate in cutting-edge, NIH-funded projects that could have significant impact on the field of neurotrauma and the national healthcare system.

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