T32 Neuromuscular Plasticity Training Program (NMPT)

Program Overview

The Interdisciplinary Training Program in Rehabilitation and Neuromuscular Plasticity, funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research was initiated in 2003 to help build a critical mass of well-trained scientists prepared to conduct innovative rehabilitation research.

This pre-doctoral training program is unique in that it emphasizes the interaction and joint training of rehabilitation clinicians and basic scientists with a common interest in translational research in neuromuscular plasticity.

Trainees are selected from a pool of outstanding students with diverse backgrounds and are admitted by one of five graduate programs: Rehabilitation Science Doctoral Program, Biomedical Engineering, Applied Physiology and Kinesiology, Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences, MD-PhD Training Program.

The Neuromuscular Plasticity Training program (NMPT) is specifically designed to provide pre-doctoral trainees with the foundation and skills needed to become independent investigators and future leaders in rehabilitation. Upon entering the program, each trainee prepares an individualized career development plan under the guidance of an experienced faculty mentor and translational research co-advisor. The individualized plan consists of a structured didactic program, specialized courses, journal clubs and seminars, laboratory research and multiple scientific dissemination experiences. Trainees learn cutting-edge research methodologies and acquire extensive research experience. Most importantly, they generate, analyze, present and publish research data. In addition to the close mentorship provided by the faculty mentor and translational research co-advisor, the trainees benefit from close interactions with clinical and basic science faculty participating in established Collaborative Translational Research Partnerships.

Program Administration

The NIH National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research T32 award at the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions is under the direction of Dave Fuller, Ph.D., Program Director, Krista Vandenborne, PT., Ph.D., Translational Science Advisor, and Andrew Judge, Ph.D., Education Coordinator.

The Director and Co-Directors are assisted by an NMPT Internal Steering Committee and a large group of faculty mentors. The NMPT Program Administration is housed in the Department of Physical Therapy and coordinated by Laura Quintana, Academic Program Specialist. Curtis Bryant is the Research Training and Fellow Administrator for the College of Public Health and Health Professions.

Faculty Mentors

A total of 34 basic and clinical rehabilitation scientists with a strong record of scholarly productivity and grant funding serve as faculty mentors on the NMPT program. Each trainee is assigned a faculty mentor and translational research co-advisor. The faculty mentors encompass a wide spectrum of rehabilitation research interests and expertise, from evidence-based practice to systems physiology, biomedical imaging, and translational molecular therapeutics.

Many of the 34 members of the training faculty have a history of interdisciplinary collaboration in research grants, peer-reviewed publications and joint sponsorship of students and postdoctoral fellows. Collectively NMPT faculty have provided mentorship to more than 350 pre-doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows, supported by a variety of funding sources. The incredible synergy and long history of collaboration between NMPT clinical and basic science faculty mentors have led to the evolution of several productive Translational Research Programs, which are well integrated within the NMPT program.

NMPT Training Program Curriculum

The didactic portion of the NMPT program has been designed to fill graduate program curriculum gaps in the areas of neuromuscular plasticity and rehabilitation. In addition, each trainee is required each semester to attend and participate in an interdisciplinary seminar series, a journal club relevant to their research, and to participate in the monthly Trainee Forum which focuses on academic career development. In addition, a variety of NMPT program events are designed to promote “cross fertilization” of ideas and to facilitate networking between trainees, faculty mentors and national experts. Trainees present their research during a formal graduate seminar series in the summer months (“Neuromuscular @ Nine”) and also the NMPT Symposium. Trainees attend national and international scientific meetings within their areas of expertise, with financial support from the NMPT Program. These meetings provide interactions with the leading researchers in the field and expose the trainees to the latest research innovations.

Required courses:

GMS 7877: Responsible Conduct of Biomedical Research (Wayne McCormack, PhD): The course is designed to introduce key RCR issues, following the research process from inception to planning, conducting, reporting and reviewing biomedical research. It provides a practical overview of the rules, regulations and professional practices that define RCR in the context of relevant case scenarios.

RSD 6718: Neuroplasticity as a Foundation for Rehabilitation (David Fuller, PhD): This course reviews the current evidence for plasticity associated with synaptic activity, sensorimotor systems following injury or disease, factors that may influence recovery, medical approaches to enable recovery, and physical rehabilitation as an agent for enhancing plasticity and recovery.

RSD 6401: Skeletal Muscle in Aging & Disease: Implications for Rehabilitation (Russ Hepple, PhD): The course addresses the impact of aging and various diseases on skeletal muscle biology, the mechanisms therein, and preclinical (animal model) or clinical approaches to therapeutically treating skeletal muscle to improve function.

What is the level of stipend support for trainees supported by this grant?

The NIH predoctoral stipend is $27,144 per year. The grant also covers tuition and fees, health insurance, and provides additional funds for travel and training related expenses.

Contact Info

Program CoordinatorProgram Director:
Laura QuintanaDave Fuller, PhD
Academic Program SpecialistProfessor
Department of Physical TherapyDepartment of Physical Therapy