Post Doctoral Training

The Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery (VCNDD) has recently been awarded the Postdoctoral Training in Central Nervous System (CNS) Drug Discovery Training Grant (NIH T32 Training Grant) from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The generous support provided by the NIMH allows us to provide a unique training opportunity in which postdoctoral fellows can gain highly multidisciplinary experience in drug discovery for major brain disorders. The VCNDD has established itself as one of the world’s premier institutions for CNS drug discovery. Our approach to drug discovery is similar in many respects to the paradigms employed in the most productive industry settings and provides trainees with a unique exposure to each of the major subdisciplines of drug discovery as well as the critical need for tightly coordinated team-based research. However, our program is distinctly different from industrial drug discovery because our primary focus isto push the boundaries of basic science while focused on translation of that science into novel therapeutic agents.

One unique aspect of our program is that for a small number of select programs, we gain the larger funding required to execute a full lead optimization effort internally. These intense lead optimization efforts include teams of up to 20 drug discovery scientists. Regardless of whether a trainee is directly involved in a lead optimization program, all trainees benefit greatly from attending lead optimization team meetings for where they experience the unique discipline of full drug discovery. As trainees continue their basic research with proof-of-concept compounds, their findings will inform the drug discovery efforts. Trainees further benefit from the drug discovery effort because compounds generated by the discovery teams often flow back to the trainees to provide new tools for their basic research.

Because of this training environment, trainees working on the early basic science efforts gain uncommon cross-disciplinary training. Each trainee specializes in at least two subdisciplines. For instance a chemist may also train in molecular pharmacology and test their own compounds to gain a better appreciation of the complexity and that underlies potency values that drive their SAR. A molecular pharmacologist may also perform DMPK and/or behavioral studies with molecules that they have optimized in collaboration with a chemist. In addition, each trainee interacts extensively across the entire range of disciplines needed to optimize and understand their compounds and gains broad integrated training.

Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery encourages diversity and is an equal opportunity employer. If you are an individual with a disability or are interested in learning more about our supportive services, please check out our Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services office by clicking here.