This proposal seeks to establish a Child Health Research Career Development Award in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota (UM) Medical School. Our long-term goal is to foster the career development of physician-investigators engaged in basic and translational research relevant to the health of children. UM has a long and rich history of child health research, consistently ranking in the top 20 nationally in securing funding from the NIH. UM also has a history of forging partnerships with industry to deliver innovative technologies developed in academic medicine to the bedside of children. The Department of Pediatrics is currently in a dynamic growth phase, driven by a significant expansion in faculty and the construction of a new children's hospital on the UM campus. Internal funding programs have been successful in providing mentored academic training for assistant professors, focused in five high-priority areas of research designated by the UM as "research corridors": cancer, diabetes, infectious diseases, cardiovascular health, and brain disorders. These efforts have produced NIH funded pediatric investigators, and have been particularly successful in training women. To meet future needs for academic pediatric scientists here and elsewhere, our current goal is to expand the impact of our training program by funding 2 CHRCDA Scholars/year. The Department of Pediatrics guarantees a full three years of 75% protected time for Scholars. A strong mentoring team will commit to following the Scholar after completion of CHRCDA training, throughout the 6-9 year period as an Assistant Professor, until promotion. This program strives to attract individuals with a commitment to academic medicine, providing a scientifically rich environment where pediatricians are afforded the opportunity of training in established laboratories with expertise in developmental biology, genetics, molecular biology, cell biology, and translational research. In addition to 20 NIH-funded Department of Pediatrics or affiliated mentors (5 of whom are themselves R01 funded former CHRCDA Scholars), additional program faculty will be chosen from diverse fields and departments at the UM. External and internal advisory committees will monitor progress of the program on a regular basis. Given the available faculty members, the facilities, the curricular and administrative structure, the formal selection and evaluation processes, and the expectations both at recruitment and throughout the training period, this training program is expected to enable the UM Department of Pediatrics to substantially expand existing programs, toward the goal of continuing our strong track record of producing independent investigators performing cutting-edge child health research.
Childhood diseases continue to cause significant suffering and death globally. In addition, many adult diseases have their beginnings in childhood, making investment in biomedical research in pediatric medicine an important goal for ensuring health throughout the lifetime of an individual. There is a critical need to generate new knowledge about childhood diseases, and translate basic research findings into more effective disease control interventions to improve the health of children and adults. A group of experienced mentors with extensive research expertise will educate pediatric physicians embarking on careers in academic medicine in how to conduct basic and translational research of importance to child health, toward the goals of improving our understanding of pediatric diseases and discovering novel therapies.
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