Goal 4: Develop Workforce and Resources

NOVEL APPROACHES TO TRAINING IN SLEEP AND CIRCADIAN RESEARCH

Sleep and circadian disorders are relatively new areas of medicine. Most universities currently lack a critical mass of investigators to develop institutional T32 grants. Thus, there are, unfortunately, few such programs nationally. The Sleep Research Society has recognized this and is taking active steps to facilitate development of other T32 institutional training grants.

 

This will not, however, help the majority of institutions. There is a need to develop novel approaches to facilitate development of research training in this field more broadly.

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Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Critical Challenge (CC)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

The current status of research training in sleep and circadian disorders suggest that new approaches are needed. The field has developed one multi-center training grant to bring training to different institutions. This is focused on genetic/genomic approaches. It is run by the University of Pennsylvania which has a well developed program in this area. The fellows in training are, however, at other institutions, i.e., Johns Hopkins, University of Michigan and Stanford. Web-based approaches are used for work-in-progress seminars, grant development workshops and group mentorship, and didactic lectures. This strategy could be used more broadly to develop research training in other areas of sleep and circadian research. Stimulating this would have a major impact on research training in this new field of medicine.

 

Another relevant strategy would be to encourage adding slots in a competitive way for sleep/circadian research to other existing institutional T32 grants.

 

There are multiple mechanisms in place to communicate opportunities to the sleep/circadian academic community, i.e., Sleep-L, administered by the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research; Sleep Research Society biweekly blog; the Sleep Research Network. Specific encouragement of this approach would broaden the base for research training and would be of high impact.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

The field of sleep and circadian research has had a long commitment to facilitating research training. The Sleep Research Society has hosted Trainee Day at our annual meeting for 20 years. The Sleep Research Society is funding early-stage investigators through its Foundation. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine runs, in collaboration with the NHLBI, an event at NIH for early-stage investigators in clinical research. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine Foundation has a “Bridge to K Award” program that provides funds to early-stage investigators who just missed funding on their first application for a K award. The Sleep Research Society has provided travel funds for early-stage investigators to attend recent workshops held by different NIH Institutes including National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Thus, there is no doubt of the commitment of the field and its professional organizations.

 

The impact of these new initiatives would be to broaden the base for research training beyond a few institutions. The number of institutions with a critical mass of investigators to mount successful T32 institutional training grants is not sufficient to provide the necessary future biomedical research workforce in this area. Novel approaches, based on modern communication IT technology, are needed.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Sleep Research Society

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Idea No. 667