This is a renewal application for a pre- and post-doctoral Training Program in the Neuroimmunoendocrine Effects of Alcohol at Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine that is currently in Year 9. The training program faculty consists of a multidisciplinary group of well-funded basic scientists and clinicians with active research programs examining the neurobiological, immune and endocrine responses to alcohol exposure. The Training Faculty, i.e., those who can serve as primary mentors for T32-funded trainees, hold primary and secondary appointments in basic science and clinical departments and research institutes. This gives trainees a wide range of research areas from which to choose. Elizabeth J. Kovacs, PhD, Professor and Vice Chair in the Department of Surgery will continue to serve as the Director and PI of the Training Grant. She is a cellular immunologist with an international reputation for her work on endocrine effects on immunity after alcohol exposure. She will be assisted by Associate Director, Mary Druse-Manteuffel, PhD, Professor of Cell and Molecular Physiology, who works on neuronal consequences of fetal alcohol syndrome. They will lead the T32's Executive Committee, consisting of a subset of the Alcohol Research Program's faculty. Together, the members of the Executive Committee will oversee the recruitment of new trainees to the training program and monitor the progress of the fellows. Additionally, there is an External Advisory Committee, composed of four senior faculty who have extensive experience in alcohol research and/or in the training of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. They will critically evaluate the training program and the research of the trainees. For this renewal application, the pool of pre-doctoral trainees will be expanded to include students in Loyola's new Integrated Program in Biomedical Sciences as well as students in traditional graduate programs: Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Neuroscience, Immunology, Physiology, and Pharmacology. With a significant contribution of graduate stipend support from the Dean's office, it is anticipated that the majority of the coursework will be completed prior to appointment to this training grant. This will allow T32-funded pre- doctoral trainees, like their post-doctoral counterparts, to spend a majority of their time doing research in the laboratory of one of the members of the Training Faculty. All trainees will take a Bioethics course, demonstrate proficiency in biostatistics and will hone their skills in writing and oral presentatio. Along with the Training Faculty, all trainees will attend Alcohol Research Program meetings. In an effort to expand the number of young people interested in alcohol research this renewal application will add short-term summer internships for medical students, undergraduates and high school students. These internships will be directed to trainees from under-represented minority backgrounds. The commitment of the Training Faculty to excellence in research and teaching will insure the successful preparation of trainees for careers as academic scientists in the field of alcohol research.
Excessive alcohol consumption is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the United States costing taxpayers $166 billion dollars annually. The deleterious effects of alcohol cross the age spectrum, from fetal alcohol exposure and adolescent binge drinking to multiple organ dysfunction in long-term chronic abusers. The interdisciplinary nature of the Training Faculty at Loyola University's Alcohol Research Program, with its diverse areas of research allowing trainees to study basic, clinical and translational projects, is an ideal environment for training the next generation of alcohol researchers.
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