This is a renewal application to support a well-established pre-doctoral training program in immunology at the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences located on the Tufts University Health Sciences Campus in downtown Boston. Currently, 21 faculty members are training 34 students of whom seven receive direct support from this grant. Highly qualified students are selected from a pool of over 100 applicants based on research experience, recommendations, coursework/grades, interviews, and GRE scores. Training is designed to provide an appreciation of clinical problems together with the technical expertise and scientific insight to successfully perform research on important immunological questions.
It aims to stimulate originality, curiosity and the use of rational reasoning to understand biological mechanisms. The didactic component consists of required courses: Biochemistry, Introduction to Immunology, Immunogenetics, Immunochemistry, Immunological Mechanisms in Disease and an elective. These courses provide the foundation for required participatory courses: Journal Club, Advanced Journal Club, Seminars and Student Workshop. Students take four first year laboratory rotations and pass a qualifying examination before entering a thesis laboratory. Thesis research, considered the core of the Ph.D. training, is overseen by individual thesis advisory committees that meet with the student each semester. It is the thesis committee's role to critique the project proposal and to assess the student's progress towards producing an original and substantive contribution to scientific knowledge. While publication is not a formal requirement, graduates are expected to be first authors of peer-reviewed papers. Students are explicitly trained in oral and written presentation of scientific ideas and data and have opportunities to present their research findings at the weekly Student Workshop as well as the annual retreat and mini-symposium. Students also routinely attend and present at national and international meetings. A Program Student Adviser acts as student consultant and advocate. Requirements and expectations are established in writing and the Student Adviser keeps students well informed of their progress. The program successfully graduates a high proportion of all entering students (89%). In the past 10 years there have been 65 graduates, three are in transition, twelve are in clinical training or service and of the remaining 53, a high proportion, 45 (85%), are actively engaged in research, including four in tenure track positions. The program has benefited from a recently increased University commitment of resources to graduate biomedical education, new research facilities and the hiring of new faculty members. Continued support for seven predoctoral positions is requested.
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