This is the sixth renewal application seeking support for our Molecular Microbial Pathogenesis Training Program (MMPTP) conducted by an interdisciplinary group of faculty at Meharry Medical College (MMC) and Vanderbilt University (VU) to provide Ph.D. training in the molecular basis of infectious diseases. The program will provide opportunities for four African-Americans and other URM committed to infectious diseases careers. Highly interactive MMC and VU mentors who conduct cutting-edge research in molecular microbial pathogenesis will participate in the training. The Program offers trainees opportunities for new discoveries and breakthroughs in the study of the pathogen-host interactions of microbes causing disease including biodefense agents. The innovative features of this program are grounded on cutting- edge science and molecular approaches to study the pathogenesis of microbe-host cell interactions in the following areas: (i) Microbial attachment to receptors, invasion and replication;(ii) Functional genomics and systems biology of microbial infections;(iii) Cell host signaling evoked by pathogens including toxins;(iv) Unique pathogen target genes required for survival;(v) Structural biology and function of new microbial virulent factors;and (vi) Interactions of novel immune molecules with pathogens. The PD will be assisted by internal and external advisory committees consisting of MMC and VU training faculty and external leaders in the field. Trainee Committees on Instruction will include MMC and VU mentors. Trainees will take the program flagship course "Cell Host Microbe Interaction", at least one didactic course at VU and participate in training there as needed. All trainees and faculty will participate in Journal Clubs, Works-In-Progress, the Seminar Series including presentations by MMPTP faculty and students, MMPTP seminars with external speakers, the "Annual Research Symposium", and the annual retreat. This is a strong training program administered at an institution with an excellent record of recruiting and retaining Ph.D. minority students. The program goals are enhanced by the increased collaborative research and training programs at MMC and VU resulting from the MMC-VU alliance. The support requested will address the shortage of research in critical areas of infectious disease and of minority scientists in this discipline.
This unique training program in the molecular basis of infectious diseases offered by Meharry and Vanderbilt faculty will train talented African-Americans and other URMs in infectious diseases and will foster their career development consistent with the NIAID mission. The program will train a new generation of infectious disease minority scientists who will address the national ethic under-representation in biomedical research.
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