T32 Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Psychiatry

The past decade has seen a surge in neuroscience research findings, but so far, this progress has not translated into better treatments and outcomes for patients. Clinician-scientists trained in clinical neuroscience can help bridge that gap.

Our T32 postdoctoral research fellowship, Training the New Generation of Clinical Neuroscientists (Training-CN), funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, is designed to train psychiatrists, clinically trained PhDs, psychologists, and social workers to formulate original research on etiology, pathogenesis, course, treatment, and prevention of serious mental illness, with a focus on schizophrenia and major mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder. Upon completion of this program, clinician-scientists will be uniquely poised to bridge the gap between basic neurobiology and clinical disease. This combination is critical for advancing our understanding of the neurobiology of psychiatric disorders and for developing the highly needed disease-modifying treatments for psychiatric illnesses.  

The directors of the program, René Kahn, MD, PhD, Dolores Malaspina, MD, MS, MSPH, Antonia New, MD, and Maria de las Mercedes Perez-Rodriguez, MD, PhD, are renowned physician-scientists who combine clinical expertise with extensive research and training experience. The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai’s Departments of Neuroscience, Psychiatry, and Genetics and Genomic Sciences are ranked No.3, No.4 and No.3 respectively in NIH funding. We have a successful track record in supporting other research career pathways including a physician-scientist residency research track for MD/PhD trainees, and the first combined psychiatry residency and PhD training program in the United States, funded by an NIMH R25 grant.

Through this fellowship, we hope to help fill the dearth in clinical neuroscientists so that the recent advances in neuroscience can be translated into better care for the millions of patients with serious mental illness.  

Structure

Throughout this two-year program (with optional competitive extension to three years), fellows will undergo intense research training in order to apply for individual grants and develop into independent clinical neuroscientists. At least 75 percent of the time is protected for research activities, and in order to keep their clinical skills up to date, up to 25 percent can be used for patient care.

We anticipate that the need for additional training will differ across applicants depending on the extent of prior research training and the specific area of interest. Therefore, we will develop an individual development plan and carefully tailor the training program curriculum for each specific trainee.

Unique program elements include:

  • Grant writing coursework, including a course geared towards writing a K award (“Reach for your first K” program).
  • Internal grant review committee to optimize and streamline grant applications.
  • Peer Mentoring “Buddy” system: All trainees in the program will be paired with a junior faculty member “buddy” (at the instructor or assistant professor level) who has a current career development award or R01 equivalent grant.

During the first year, trainees will complete an individualized “Basic Research Toolkit,” see below for course examples.

  • Biostatistics for Biomedical Research
  • Principles of Neural Science, Behavior, and Brain Pathophysiology
  • Selected Topics in Neuroscience
  • Responsible Conduct in Research
  • Rigor and Responsibility
  • Topics in Clinical Neuroscience
  • Principles of Scientific Proposals
  • Effective Science Communication
  • Grant Writing

For the second year, each trainee chooses graduate school courses from up to two of three core tracks: 1) Epidemiology, Population Health, and Statistical Methods; 2) Clinical trials and Human Research Methods; and 3) Genomics.

See the table below for course samples for each.

Training Tracks Courses
Epidemiology, Population Health and Statistical Methods Data Analysis for Behavioral Neuroscience
Machine Learning for Biomedical Data Science
Introduction to Algorithms
Computational Tools for Clinical Research
Clinical Trials and Human Research Methods Brain Imaging: In Vivo Methods
Neuropharmacology
Advanced Topics in Cognition
Spectrum of Methods in Clinical Research
Applied Biostatistics in Clinical Trials
Genomics Journal Club in Genetics and Data Science
Works in Progress: Genetics and Data Science
Translational Genomics
Computer Systems
Practical Analysis of a Personal Genome

Additional Activities

We have a rich academic community of trainees at Mount Sinai, and our T32 trainees are encouraged to participate in Medical Science Training Program and Graduate Programs activities such as the following:

  • Monthly Medical Scientist Research Seminar Series
  • Weekly Psychiatry Department Grand Rounds
  • Biweekly Psychiatry Works In Progress Lecture
  • Annual retreats for the Departments of Psychiatry, Neuroscience, and Genetics and Genomics
  • Annual MD/PhD Retreat
  • Monthly Department of Psychiatry Journal Club  
  • Friedman Brain Institute Translational Neuroscience Seminar Series
  • Leon Levy Symposium
  • Psychiatric Genomics Seminar Series
  • American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) and Society of Biological Psychiatry (SOBP) annual conferences

Mentoring

Each trainee will be paired with a mentor with extensive experience in patient-oriented research and will create an individualized career development plan with targeted goals for acquisition of skills, presentations, publications, gathering pilot data, and preparation of proposals for independent research funding—usually a career development award.

Fellows will also meet regularly with the External Advisory Committee, listed below, to facilitate development. 

  • Carrie E. Bearden, PhD, Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Psychology, UCLA; Program Director, UCLA Center for the Assessment and Prevention of Prodromal States.
  • Maurizio Fava, MD, Director, Division of Clinical Research, MGH Research Institute, MGH, Boston, Massachusetts; Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Research, Harvard Medical School.
  • Raquel Gur, MD, PhD, Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Radiology; Director of Neuropsychiatry Section, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania; Director, Lifespan Brain Institute, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Penn Medicine.
  • Francis S. Lee, MD, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College; Professor of Pharmacology, Weill Cornell Medical College.
  • Ellen Leibenluft, MD, Senior Investigator (tenured), Chief, Emotion and Development Branch, NIMH Intramural Research Program.
  • Kerry James Ressler, MD, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer and James and Patricia Poitras Chair of Psychiatry at McLean Hospital; Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School.
  • Carol Tamminga, MD, Lou and Ellen McGinley Distinguished Chair and the McKenzie Chair in Psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) Medical School; Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry; Chief of the Translational Neuroscience Division in Schizophrenia, UTSW.
  • Carlos Zarate, MD, Chief, Section Neurobiology and Treatment of Mood Disorders and Chief Experimental Therapeutics and Pathophysiology Branch at the National Institute of Mental Health; Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, George Washington University.

Trainee support

Trainees will be paid a competitive salary according to their degree and experience (PGY level). Funds are available to cover tuition for up to six credits per trainee per year; see the graduate school course catalog for details. Funds are also available to cover cost of registration and travel to scientific meetings.

Eligibility Requirements

In order to qualify for this fellowship, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and have completed one or more of the following:

  • ACGME-accredited residency program in psychiatry or related field
  • A PhD in clinical psychology from an APA-accredited doctoral program and have completed an APA-accredited clinical internship
  • Master’s in social work (licensed or license-eligible social worker)

How to Apply

To apply, please email your completed application to cindy.chiu@mssm.edu along with the following items:

  • CV
  • Cover letter
  • Two letters of recommendation