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Clinical Neurosciences Pathway

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Startling breakthroughs in molecular biology and basic neuroscience have defined the cause of many diseases of the nervous system and are transforming the practice of neurology, neurosurgery and psychiatry. Basic research is giving new information on how the brain works and how brain injury occurs-and how it can be prevented or improved. A large number of our faculty are actively involved in and have been contributing significantly to these groundbreaking discoveries. Recognizing the exciting opportunities now available to better understand nervous system function and to design new treatments for neurological diseases, we've developed an interdepartmental program, The Clinical Neurosciences Pathway, to provide an enhanced exposure to the neurosciences while pursuing the Doctor of Medicine degree.

Program Goal

The Clinical Neurosciences Pathway provides medical students with an enriched experience in the neurosciences throughout their four years in medical school. This program will provide students interested in the clinical neurosciences (e.g., Neurology, Neurosurgery, Ophthalmology, Neuropathology, Neuroradiology, Psychiatry, Neurorehabilitation, Neuroanesthesia) with access to a number of stimulating clinical and research activities. In addition, students will have the opportunity to participate in activities specifically designed for medical students in the program. Pathway students will be eligible for special summer research and year-out opportunities for clinical and basic neuroscience study.

Some Specific Elements of the Program

Special Conferences and Seminars

Students will receive invitations to departmental programs such as Grand Rounds, Journal Club, and Visiting Professor and other special seminars. Opportunities will be provided for the students to meet with outstanding scientists from within and outside our institution.

Summer Research Experiences

The program will provide opportunities for research in laboratories of basic and clinical neuroscientists. Students may apply for funding for this work.

Clinical Activities

In conjunction with activities sponsored by the Student Interest Group in Neurology (SIGN), the Downstate Psychiatry Society, and the Alumni Association, students have numerous opportunities to gain clinical exposure, even in their early years of training. Students in the program have the opportunity to shadow faculty and/or residents in relevant clinical areas if desired. Students can also arrange for tours of our specialized facilities (epilepsy monitoring unit, stroke unit, sleep lab). Other clinically-relevant activities typically include panel discussions on career opportunities and residency training in neuroscience-relevant fields as well as case presentations and clinical conferences by residents and/or faculty from the relevant departments. Finally, the Mystery Case of the Month provides the opportunity to work on advanced clinical cases in the neurosciences (see below for more information) and is accessible to all students in all years of training.

Mentoring Program

In conjunction with the Alumni Association mentoring program, each student enrolled in the Clinical Neurosciences Pathway will be paired with a clinical or basic neuroscientist as a faculty mentor. This mentor will meet with the student on a regular basis to discuss topics ranging from research issues and new approaches to treating neurological disease to career opportunities. Mentors will help students select summer or year-out research experiences and help develop opportunities for in-depth study.

Mystery Case of the Month Web-Based Competition

Each month (September through May), a new mystery case will be posted on PRIME, and students will be invited to submit their answers to the Director of the Pathway. This competition will be open to all students, but members of the Pathway will be expected to submit answers at least every other month in their 3rd and 4th years. This will allow participation in the program even when clinical rotations take our students off campus, making it difficult for them to attend meetings and seminars on site.

Partnering with Junior Students of the Neurosciences

Students in the program will be able to participate in Brain Awareness Week activities at local elementary and high schools by giving presentations on common nervous system disorders (dizziness; seizures; effects of drug use; autism; et al.).

Year-Out Fellowships

Students will have the opportunity to compete for support for a full year off to gain laboratory or clinical research experience in a number of areas (see graduate school website for details of opportunities on our campus). Molecular neuroscience, cellular neuroscience, experimental therapeutics and other exciting programs may be available.

Admission to the Program

The Clinical Neurosciences Pathway is open to all medical students who have a strong interest in pursuing a career in the clinical neurosciences. While students with previous experience in neuroscience are welcome, this is not a prerequisite. Students may participate as much or as little as they like, but those who have participated in all required academic components throughout their MS2 through MS4 years will be acknowledged on Awards Day as graduates of the CNS Pathway. Students who have enrolled may drop out at any time without penalty. One may enroll by simply e-mailing the Program Director any time during the MS1 year.