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PI: Josef P. Rauschecker, PhD, DSc, Department of Physiology and Biophysics, 
Georgetown University, Washington DC

Co-PI: Werner M. Graf, MD, PhD, Department of Physiology and Biophysics,
 Howard University, Washington DC

Co-PI: Rhonda Dzakpasu, PhD, Department of Physics,
 Georgetown University, Washington DC


Project Summary

Georgetown University and Howard University, as a newly established consortium (Georgetown-Howard Universities Consortium, GHUC), propose a PIRE Program in Cognitive, Computational and Systems Neuroscience in collaboration with several European laboratories of the highest international caliber, making Washington DC the hub for an unprecedentedtransatlantic program in neuroscience research and graduate education.


Intellectual Merit

The envisioned program will combine the strengths of Research and Graduate Education at Georgetown and Howard Universities in Cognitive, Computational and Systems Neuroscience as well as Imaging Sciences. PIRE funding will provide access to an outstanding European laboratory network, including two German elite universities, a Max Planck Institute, and the French CNRS. These collaborators offer several unique approaches and techniques at the cutting edge of Neuroscience research that are not available in U.S. partner laboratories. The PIRE program will catalyze new collaborations, for instance, on noninvasive functional imaging of auditory and multisensory brain areas in nonhuman primates, on the use of modern EEG source imaging technology in computational neuroscience, and on transneuronal pathway tracing with active virus. The program will also help to significantly expand incipient projects in an International Research Training Group with the Technical University Munich, which is already supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG). While the DFG supports German students coming to U.S. laboratories, PIRE funding will be used to send U.S. trainee researchers to European laboratories.


Broader Impact

Junior U.S. scientists, graduate students from the Neuroscience programs in the GHUC, and advanced Neurobiology and Cognitive Science undergraduates will be trained and co-mentored by world-class European scientists. The recruitment of minority students from Howard University and other minority institutions into the program is a particular priority. The PIRE grant will enable the students to learn new approaches to Neuroscience research, which they would otherwise not be able to acquire. In addition to laboratory research, the students will participate in graduate courses that are offered by the foreign institutions’ graduate schools and Max Planck International Schools. A PIRE Summer School will be created, in which all U.S. and international collaborators and students participate at alternating locations to discuss and advance their joint projects. These largely education meetings will promote cohesion of the collaborative consortium and aid in the integration of all participants into a global team. The latter will also be supported by cyber-learning infrastructures that are in place within the GHUC and will be expanded significantly as part of this PIRE project, creating an international remote learning network. This component will permit participants both stateside and overseas to simultaneously be in the same classrooms and laboratories. A team of experienced evaluators independent of the project investigators will monitor PIRE success. As the ultimate goal, the creation of a joint international degree program is envisioned. In summary, a vast network of education and research opportunities will become available for junior U.S. researchers and students, in particular minorities, via the proposed PIRE project. The project will establish a homogeneous international training program, which can serve as an innovative, long-term model for global research and education.




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