Transforming Psychiatry from the Classroom to the Clinic: Lessons from the National Neuroscience Curriculum Initiative

  • Melissa R. ArbuckleEmail author
  • Michael J. Travis
  • Jane Eisen
  • Amanda Wang
  • Ashley E. Walker
  • Joseph J. Cooper
  • Liz Neeley
  • Sidney Zisook
  • Deborah S. Cowley
  • David A. Ross
Empirical Report



Individual residency programs often struggle to keep pace with scientific advances and new training requirements. Integrating a modern neuroscience perspective into the clinical practice of psychiatry is particularly emblematic of these challenges. The National Neuroscience Curriculum Initiative (NNCI) was established in 2013 to develop a comprehensive set of shared, open-access resources for teaching neuroscience in psychiatry.


The NNCI developed a collaborative, team-based approach with a peer-review process for generating and reviewing content. Teaching resources have included interactive sessions for the classroom paired with a comprehensive facilitator’s guide. Brief accessible reviews and short videos have been developed for self-study and teaching in clinical settings. Dissemination efforts have included hands-on training for educators through national workshops. All resources are freely available on the NNCI website. Outcome measures have included the number of educational resources developed, feedback from workshop attendees, the number of US psychiatry residency programs who have adopted NNCI resources, as well as analytics from the NNCI website.


To date, the NNCI has developed over 150 teaching sessions, reflecting the work of 129 authors from 49 institutions. The NNCI has run over 50 faculty development workshops in collaboration with numerous national and international organizations. Between March 2015 and June 2019, the website ( has hosted 48,640 unique users from 161 countries with 500,953 page views. More than 200 psychiatry training programs have reported implementing NNCI teaching materials.


This multisite collaborative provides a model for integrating cutting-edge science into medical education and the practice of medicine more broadly.


Neuroscience Psychiatry Residency training Medical education Curriculum development 



The authors would like to thank the members of the NNCI advisory committee and are particularly grateful to AADPRT and the members of the Neuroscience Education Committee for its role in supporting this effort, as well as the numerous residents, fellows, and faculty who have contributed content to the NNCI.

Funding Information

This work has been financially supported by grant funding from the NIMH (R13 MH074298 10, R25 MH101076 05S1, R25 MH086466 10S1) with additional financial support from the Society of Biological Psychiatry and the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Program evaluation efforts were reviewed by the Institutional Review Board of the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Yale University Department of Psychiatry and were determined to be exempt and not subject to human subjects’ review.


Manuscripts that are authored by a member of the Academic Psychiatry Editorial Board undergo the same editorial review process applied to all manuscripts, including blinded peer review.


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Copyright information

© Academic Psychiatry 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melissa R. Arbuckle
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael J. Travis
    • 2
  • Jane Eisen
    • 3
  • Amanda Wang
    • 4
  • Ashley E. Walker
    • 5
  • Joseph J. Cooper
    • 6
  • Liz Neeley
    • 7
  • Sidney Zisook
    • 8
  • Deborah S. Cowley
    • 9
  • David A. Ross
    • 10
  1. 1.Columbia University Irving Medical CenterNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.University of Pittsburgh School of MedicinePittsburghUSA
  3. 3.McLean HospitalBelmontUSA
  4. 4.Research Foundation for Mental HygieneNew YorkUSA
  5. 5.University of OklahomaTulsaUSA
  6. 6.University of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  7. 7.The Story ColliderWashingtonUSA
  8. 8.University of CaliforniaSan DiegoUSA
  9. 9.University of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  10. 10.Yale School of MedicineNew HavenUSA

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