The neurobiological mechanisms underlying drug addiction, learning, and memory are themes to be covered in presentations at the Third Annual Conference of the Texas Consortium in Behavioral Neuroscience in College Station this weekend, February 19-20. The consortium, funded by a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant, is a unique training program designed to foster the development of scientists from underrepresented populations within the region. By promoting the developing of our brightest minds, the program will help to develop our next generation of professors and scientists.
The consortium builds upon the academic strength of Texas A&M University and the University of Texas, bringing together the five strongest programs in neuroscience within central Texas. The participating programs include behavioral neuroscience programs at Texas A&M University, University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas at San Antonio. Additional training opportunities are provided through the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and Texas A&M University System Health Science Center.
Behavioral neuroscience faculty members from the five institutions mentor the students in developing behavioral neuroscience research methods and in cultivating professional skills needed to thrive as a researcher in the field. Gerald D. Frye, Ph.D., and William H. Griffith, Ph.D., from the department of Medical Pharmacology and Toxicology, will represent the College of Medicine as training faculty.
The program supports 10 predoctoral and five postdoctoral trainees, providing training opportunities to both new students and those who will soon move on to professorships. Predoctoral trainees are required to complete courses covering the brain and behavior, scientific ethics, experimental design and statistical analysis. Postdoctoral trainees choose a project at the onset of their training. Research training covers state-of-the-art approaches to behavioral brain research, including brain metabolic mapping of behavioral functions, neuropharmacology, electrophysiology and molecular neurobiology, and emphasizes professional development skills, such as oral and written communication skills.
All 15 trainees will deliver a presentation at the conference. The five postdoctoral students will deliver presentations on their research projects. The 10 predoctoral students will discuss their projects at a poster session. Other presentation topics will address how to succeed in the profession as well as an ethics case study.
Hispanic and African-American leaders with demonstrated knowledge of successful neuroscience training programs for underrepresented populations provide direction to this program. Scientists from across the nation serve on the Advisory Committee, which is responsible for policy-making, curriculum development, recruiting, monitoring and program evaluation.
The conference site rotates among the five institutions, and Texas A&M University and the A&M Health Science Center are co-hosting the 2005 event. Additional funding for this year’s conference comes from units within Texas A&M University and the A&M Health Science Center: the College of Liberal Arts, Department of Psychology, Recovery of Function Training Group, neuroscience faculty, the College of Medicine and its Department of Medical Pharmacology & Toxicology.

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