Research Tracks and Training Locations
Applicants have the opportunity to rank interest in individual research areas on the Application Form. Every effort will be made to match you to your preference, but it is not guaranteed.
Some students will have experiences in basic scientific techniques, experimental design and statistical analysis. Students may run imaging data analysis for PET data, MRI data or functional MRI data by using the latest imaging processing packages such as SPM, FreeSurfer, etc. Other experiences will include public health, psychology, and epidemiology. Students in clinical track will have exposure to clinical care in neurodegenerative conditions as well as introduction to clinical research techniques.
Hands-on instruction provided in basic scientific techniques, which may include solution preparation, pipetting, microscopy, centrifugation, cell culture, and experimental design and analysis. These techniques will be taught in the context of the students’ participation in ongoing research projects and protocols that can be completed during the program, with oversight by faculty at each participating facility.
Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
The ASU Biodesign Institute is a primary example of ASU’s innovative approach to research initiatives and institutes – one that looks to remove barriers instead of creating them and to generate impact that extends beyond the university campus. ASU’s Biodesign Institute was not created in the image of a traditional research institute, with a rigid focus on a single field of study, but instead advances bio-inspired solutions drawing on multiple disciplines to address complex challenges in health, sustainability and security. Built into this transdisciplinary research model is a pipeline for translating discoveries and new knowledge into new technologies and products to benefit people and our planet. There are 15 research centers at the Biodesign Institute, including the ASU-Banner Neurodegenerative Disease Research Center (NDRC) currently co-directed by Dr. Eric Reiman, focused on advancing the scientific study, treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases in state-of-the-art laboratory space.
Students interested in basic neuroscience research will obtain a hands-on laboratory experience at ASU’s Biodesign Institute or a partnering laboratory at ASU’s Tempe campus. Students may have experiences in basic scientific techniques, experimental design and statistical analysis. Students may run imaging data analysis for PET data, MRI data or functional MRI data by using the latest imaging processing packages such as SPM, FreeSurfer, etc. Other experiences will include public health, psychology, and epidemiology research. Hands-on instruction and training is provided in basic scientific techniques, which may include solution preparation, pipetting, microscopy, centrifugation, cell culture, and experimental design and analysis. These techniques will be taught in the context of the students’ participation in ongoing research projects and protocols that can be completed during the program, with oversight by faculty at each participating facility.
Excellent written and verbal skills are required co clearly communicate with staff, interviewers, participants and the community.
Banner Alzheimer's Institute, Phoenix, AZ
The Computational Image Analysis and Research team is responsible for organizing, processing and analyzing behaviors, clinical, neuropsychological, genetic, and more importantly, multiple neuroimaging modal data. The multi-modal neuroimaging data includes volumetric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), functional MRI (fMRI), positron emission tomography (PET) with various tracers to measure separate glucose utilization, oxygen consumption, blood perfusion, amyloid deposition and tau accumulation for the studies of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), AD risks, and its preclinical course as well as other neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson disease. These neuroimaging techniques provide us a window to examine the human brain, the structural, functional, pathological abnormalities especially related to the disease of interest. We use highly sophisticated statistical and imaging processing software packages such as R, SAS, MATLAB, FreeSurfer, SPM, AFNI and FSL for our data analyses. In addition, we develop and implement necessary algorithms to increase our analysis sensitivity.
Our program offers opportunities to learn the neuroimaging techniques, their use in medical research, statistical and imaging analysis methods, some basic computer programming such as R, MATLAB and scripting in Linux environment. Students will also learn how to prepare scientific reports.
Students should be working toward completion of a Bachelor’s degree in science, mathematics, computer science, biomedical engineering, bioinformatics, psychology, or related health profession.
Basic knowledge of statistics and computer science skills are preferred.
Banner Sun Health Research Institute, Sun City, AZ
The Center for Healthy Aging is home of the Longevity Study: Learning from our Elders, a non-invasive, observational research study. The purpose of this research program is to gain a better understanding of the many factors involved in healthy aging and the complex interactions among these factors. Its mission strives to enhance the quality of life through research, education, and community-based programs. The Center collaborates with universities in Arizona and other researchers in the field of aging. The Banner Sun Health Research Institute (BSHRI) Center for Healthy Aging’s Longevity Study has been performing annual clinical and cognitive assessments over the last ten years in more than 1,400 residents, age 50 and older, from the Phoenix metropolitan area, primarily the Northwest Valley. Research participants are predominantly retirement community residents, living at home or in continuous care retirement communities. Over 600 participants continue to be interviewed annually with a focus on the oldest, 85 and older, as more research is needed on this fastest growing segment of the population.
Students specifically interested in learning about all facets of research in the field of Applied Psychology/Epidemiological Research will benefit from exposure to the Center. Training and observation will be provided in preparation for face-to-face interviews with seniors. Students should be working toward completion of a Bachelor’s degree in psychology, social work, gerontology or related health profession. Students should have also completed, or be enrolled in, an introductory statistics course along with a research methods course. Previous experience with quantitative research and statistics to include coding of variables, managing and analyzing data and working knowledge of statistical software, literature searches, and manuscript writing is helpful.
Excellent written and verbal skills are required to clearly communicate with Center for Healthy Aging staff, interviewers, participants and the community. Must be able to maintain excellent rapport with older adults while maintaining confidentiality of participant and study information.
Banner Sun Health Research Institute, Sun City, AZ
The Brain and Body Donation Program (BBDP) is a longitudinal clinicopathological study of normal aging, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, cancer and other age-related disorders (https://www.brainandbodydonationprogram.org). One of the most important ways to learn about aging and the disorders of aging is to study brain and body tissue from both normal and affected people after they pass away. Of equal importance is to learn how well older individuals perform functions of daily living during life. The BBDP enrolls normal and affected older people from the greater Phoenix region, testing them annually in our Sun City clinic with physical, neurological and neuropsychological assessments, and then performs rapid autopsies at death, followed by comprehensive pathologist diagnostic examination of all tissue types.
The BBDP offers opportunities in both the clinical assessments and the postmortem procedures. The clinical assessments will give students experience with patient contact and working in a clinical research setting while the postmortem lab will give an understanding of human autopsies, histological slide preparation and application of human tissue to biomedical research.
Students should be working toward completion of a Bachelor’s degree in science, psychology, gerontology or related health profession.
Basic laboratory skills are preferred, including exposure to anatomical dissections of animals or human cadavers.
Banner Sun Health Research Institute, Sun City, AZ
The Banner Sun Health Research Institute (BSHRI) offers compassionate, specialized neurology care and cutting-edge research opportunities for Alzheimer disease and related dementias, as well as movement disorders. The Cleo Roberts Memory and Movement Disorders Center provides comprehensive clinical services to the community of Sun City and beyond. Our clinic is multidisciplinary and includes physicians, nurse practitioners, neuropsychologists and medical social workers supported by medical assistants and administrative staff. Together, we evaluate, diagnose, treat and care for patients and families with neurodegenerative diseases of aging. BSHRI also houses a robust Clinical Trials program, a Brain and Body Donation Program, and a healthy aging (“Longevity”) study, which allow us to offer cutting edge research opportunities to supplement clinical medical care. Also available are community outreach programs such as Brain Health Check In, a community service that provides a free cognitive screening with individual recommendations for follow-up.
Students in the Clinical Neurodegenerative Research track will have comprehensive exposure to direct patient care including, but not limited to, bedside evaluation by clinicians, bedside cognitive testing, full neuropsychological evaluations, community outreach programs, and social support services for individuals with neurodegenerative diseases and their families. Opportunities for research in this track are diverse and range from building video libraries for educational purposes, writing patient educational materials, clinicopathological correlations, utility of community programs and more.
Potential candidates are students with interest in clinical care of the elderly. This includes students pursuing degrees in social work, nursing, psychology/applied psychology, neuroscience, health sciences and education [if interested in biological sciences]. Research projects will be tailored to individual interests, strengths and most importantly, goals. Familiarity with introductory statistics and/or database management, quantitative analysis and manuscript writing will be an asset.
Training opportunities are available in the laboratories and clinics of the institutes that comprise the participating Banner Institutes and the Biodesign Institute and associated labs at Arizona State University, located in the Greater Phoenix Area.