February 14, 2020

School of Medicine’s Jeff Stanley, Ph.D., wins Outstanding Graduate Director Award

For graduate students to succeed in academia after earning their degrees, Translational Neuroscience Graduate Program Director Jeffrey Stanley, Ph.D., places high value on a comprehensive and interdisciplinary training experience.

Jeffrey Stanley
Jeffrey Stanley, Ph.D., was named a 2020 Outstanding Graduate Director by The Graduate School. He leads the Translational Neuroscience Program at the School of Medicine.

“One must keep in mind that the success rate of postdoctoral fellows successfully transitioning to junior faculty is extremely low – about 20% in the sciences. Yes, it is very competitive, but a key contributor for this low rate stems from the lack of proper training of predoctoral students that is needed to best prepare them for a successful career path in academic research,” he said. “We are very cognizant of this and we do our best in providing a comprehensive and interdisciplinary training experience. This begins by developing the skills of conducting research from start to finish – identifying the gaps in knowledge by critically reading the literature, developing a series of scientific questions and investigating how to best address these questions, followed by constructing a conceptual framework of the research proposal.”

Wayne State University’s The Graduate School will honor Dr. Stanley with a 2020 Outstanding Graduate Director Award, one of three it will give at the Academic Recognition Ceremony on April 23 in the McGregor Conference Center.

Dr. Stanley has directed the Translational Neuroscience Graduate Program since 2009. The doctorate program is housed in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences and hosts more than 40 graduate faculty members from 18 departments spanning four schools and colleges at WSU.

“The recognition is a good feeling and demonstrates that the program is steadily growing, students are very productive and graduates have secured postdoctoral positions at top-ranked institutions such as Yale University, Stanford University, University of Colorado and Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix, and hold faculty positions. This includes Dr. Hilary Marusak, who received her Ph.D. in 2016 and joined our faculty in 2019,” Dr. Stanley said. “Seeing the many accomplishments and successes of our current and past students is most satisfying.”

The vision of the TNP program at WSU is to inspire a new generation of biomedical investigators trained in interdisciplinary science that focuses on improving the health and care of individuals affected by psychiatric or neurological disorders, or injuries in the nervous system through an understanding of disease mechanisms.

All TNP students must develop, write and submit to the National Institutes of Health a predoctoral fellowship grant application (F30/F31), an invaluable experience in best preparing predoctoral students, he added. Four TNP students have received an NIH F30/F31 predoctoral fellowship, “reflecting a 29% success rate from our TNP students, which is extremely impressive,” Dr. Stanley said.

He is the first graduate director at the School of Medicine to receive the award since its inception in 2017. He was named Outstanding Graduate Mentor by the same group in 2014.

“Dr. Stanley has performed an exceptional job in building and establishing a highly reputable Ph.D. graduate program not only for the School of Medicine but an unprecedented graduate program that cuts across different schools and colleges at Wayne State University,” said Chair and Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences David Rosenberg, M.D.

Dr. Stanley is quick to praise others in his department for their work in supporting the program. They include the TNP Graduate Office’s Alana Conti, Ph.D.; Steering and Admission Committee Members Alex Gow, Ph.D., Don Kuhn, Ph.D., Ana Daugherty, Ph.D., Christine Rabinak, Ph.D., Susanne Brummelte, Ph.D. and Alan Dombkowski, Ph.D.; and “a special thank you to our administrator, Caroline Zajac-Benitez, for her tireless effort in running our program seamlessly,” he added.