The purpose of this proposal is develop a program to attract undergraduate and graduate students who are majoring in engineering, informatics and computational disciplines to consider careers in the areas of digestive disease and metabolism and their related health disorders. The program is sponsored by the Department of Molecular &Integrative Physiology at the University of Michigan Medical School, and includes two components. One component is to develop and offer a graduate-level course, which may also be available as an upper-level undergraduate course, to teach physiology, bioinformatics, engineering and computer science students computational applications related to NIDDK research missions such diabetes, obesity and gastrointestinal cancers. It is anticipated that this course will attract graduate students, who have not selected a mentor, to pursue PhD projects related to digestive disease and metabolism. Students will be exposed to the research programs of 17 proposed Program Faculty mentors. All Program Faculty are funded investigators carrying out research in the areas of digestive disease or metabolism, and have primary or joint appointments in Physiology but also have appointments with Medicine, Pediatrics or Surgery. The second component is to establish summer research fellowships that provide opportunities for engineering and computational students to gain laboratory experience in the research areas of digestive or metabolic physiology. Students will attend a noon lecture series that introduces them to multiple aspects of physiology-related research including the use of different model organisms, ethical issues in laboratory research, and career opportunities in biomedical sciences. The research experience will culminate in a half-day symposium that includes oral presentations given by the students summarizing their research projects. Program oversight will be provided by a highly qualified Internal Advisory Committee, and student selection and progress-monitoring will be done by a Student Selection and Mentoring Committee. To maximize the experience, students will be encouraged to enroll in two consecutive summers when possible. Anticipated outcomes include: (i) graduate students from engineering, informatics, and computational sciences will pursue research related to the NIDDK-mission, and (ii) undergraduate students from underrepresented scientific disciplines will perform laboratory research in the areas of digestive and metabolic physiology. We expect this experience to encourage them not only to pursue a research career but to also to consider the exciting opportunities related to solving health problems involving digestive diseases and metabolic disorders.

Public Health Relevance

The goal of the proposed program is to establish a course to teach graduate and undergraduate students from engineering and computational backgrounds the exciting challenges and opportunities pertaining to digestive health and metabolism. The program also offers summer research opportunities to undergraduate engineering students. Our goals are that the offered course and summer research experience will stimulate graduate and undergraduate students to engage in research careers that address the health problems pertaining to digestive disease and metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Education Projects (R25)
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Study Section
Digestive Diseases and Nutrition C Subcommittee (DDK)
Program Officer
Podskalny, Judith M,
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University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Schools of Medicine
Ann Arbor
United States
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