The Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Neuropathology Pittsburgh Research Education Program (N3-PREP) is intended to help advance academic research careers in the neuroscience fields. Developed in coordination with the University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurological Surgery, the Department of Neurology and the Division of Neuropathology—and funded by a five-year NIH NINDS R25 Research Education Grant—the overarching and long-term goal of the program is to train the next generation of physician-neuroscientists in basic science, translational science, data science, and clinical (patient-oriented) research through a closely mentored approach, in an environment ripe with physical and faculty resources across the translational spectrum of neuro-focused research.

Key components of N3-PREP include a well-defined pathway for each trainee to be paired with a primary mentor and a mentoring committee, a core curriculum, internal study sections for grant reviews, progress tracking for both the trainee and mentor, and continued support for the trainee’s progress toward an NIH K mentored-career development award or equivalent. A longitudinal track beginning in the PGY-1 year will increase the interest of the matriculating residents across participating departments, transform the culture, and ultimately increase a diverse pool of residents well-prepared to receive the most from the benefits of direct R25 funding.

The core curriculum of N3-PREP includes formal training in experimental design and scientific rigor, statistical methodology, grant writing, presentation skills, DEI principles, and the responsible conduct of research. Led by multi-principal investigators Constantinos G. Hadjipanayis, MD, PhD, executive vice-chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery, Page B. Pennell, MD, Henry B. Higman Chair of the Department of Neurology, and Julia K. Kofler, MD, director of the Division of Neuropathology, along with an advisory committee, N3-PREP is well-supported by commitments from 87 research mentors across 16 University of Pittsburgh/UPMC departments. 

Physician-neuroscientists are essential for converting the discoveries from the laboratory to diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for persons burdened by neurologic diseases. Integration of research training during clinical training years (residency and fellowship) is pivotal to fostering the next generation of physician-neuroscientists, essential to bringing the neuro-based discoveries to the bedside.

Biomedical research is a high priority at the University of Pittsburgh with faculty across more than 20 departments and institutes performing a wide variety of cutting-edge research. Ultimately, researchers believe that N3-PREP will increase the number of well-prepared neuro-focused physician-scientists from the University of Pittsburgh who will progress to the forefront of guiding innovative neuroscience research.