Education

    • 1. Graduate Student Education

Dr. Kaplan has been engaged in preclinical and clinical research in the area of the neurobiology of addiction for over 20 years. He has been a teacher and mentor for undergraduates, medical students, graduate students and residents in areas of psychiatry, neuroscience and pharmacology. Graduate Students may apply for rotations in the Boston University Departments of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, the Graduate Program of Neuroscience and in the MD/PhD Combined Degree Programs. Students interested in learning more about graduate laboratory rotations should contact Dr. Kaplan (gary.kaplan@va.gov) and should provide the following information: educational background, undergraduate coursework and GPA, previous research experience and a narrative description of research interests and career plans.

a. Graduate Student Training in Psychiatric Neuroscience

Boston University graduate students in the Departments of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and in the Graduate Program of Neuroscience and MD/PhD Combined Degree Programs are encouraged to apply for laboratory rotations. Our research examines the signaling and neuroplasticity mechanisms in rodent models of opiate sensitization, conditioned opiate reward, and extinction of reward. Drug related learning may be produced by changes in dendritic spine morphology and connectivity in key brain regions such as the nucleus accumbens. Other research uses rodent models of conditioned fear and extinction learning to improve our understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Such learning may be produced by changes in dendritic spine morphology and connectivity in regions such as the basolateral amygdala. Such translational research defines the mechanisms related to opiate addiction and PTSD and defines novel therapeutic targets of interest.

    • b. Clinical Rounds Program for Graduate Program in Neuroscience

The goal of this program is to expose graduate students to relevant clinical experiences related to their research so that they can experience the inspiration and purpose from patient care activities. Neuroscience Graduate Students travel to the West Roxbury VA monthly. Under the direction of Dr. Kaplan, students meet with the clinical psychiatry team which includes psychiatrist attendings, psychiatry residents, psychosomatic medicine fellows, and medical students. The format begins with clinical presentations for one or two patients. The presentations are standardized and include patient chief complaint and psychiatric presentation, current medical and neurological illnesses, past medical history, past psychiatric illnesses, mental status exam including cognitive exam, case formulation, DSM diagnoses, and discussion of treatment interventions. This is followed by a clinical interview with the patient in order to gain their alliance and review the critical details of the case. A clinical assessment is formulated and discussed with the patient with review of treatment recommendations. The students are able ask questions to the patient at the end of the interview. Finally, the team discusses the case presentation and reviews the case with nursing and physician staff. The patients have diagnoses of delirium, dementia, depression, schizophrenia, PTSD, substance use disorder, and bipolar disorder.

  • 2. Boston University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School Medical Student Elective

This is a new initiative lead by Dr. Kaplan to enhance medical education to ensure that current and future physicians are trained in the unique clinical challenges and best practices associated with caring for Veterans. This goal will be accomplished through the inclusion of an advanced clinical elective in Post-Deployment Psychiatry for BUSM/HMS Medical Students to enrich their learning experiences. This elective would be based at the Jamaica Plain campus and would involve faculty collaboration between the Mental Health Service and the National Centers for PTSD. In this elective, students would be trained to assess and diagnose post-deployment mental illnesses of Returning Veterans and learn of psychosocial and psychopharmacological treatment approaches for these conditions. Medical Students can contact Dr. Kaplan for more information about this elective.