Immunology is a profoundly rich and diverse scientific discipline involving basic, translational, and clinical research. The breadth of the discipline, spanning the fields of immunology, molecular biology, microbiology, cellular biology, and computational biology, reflects the varied diseases resulting from insufficient or aberrant immune reactivity. As our understanding of how this complex biological system grows, so too does the need to train a new generation of creative, inspired, and technically proficient young scientists with a passion for immunology. The Immunology Training Program (ITP) at Boston University has been doing that for 24 years. Now, with the benefit of an array of time-tested as well as cutting-edge educational and scientific resources at BU, and the collective expertise of 37 dedicated ITP faculty members, we propose to further this goal by addressing 6 specific aims: 1) Build an infrastructure to support a cohesive, interactive, and motivated immunology community on the Boston University Medical Campus and to interact with ITP's strategic partners. 2) Train the next generation of young immunologists who possess state-of the-art technical skills, are academically versatile, have a broad multidisciplinary background in molecular and cellular immunology, computational biology, and other relevant disciplines and are expert in a particular subarea of interest. 3) Provide significant resources to aid trainees in identifying and realizing their career goals. 4) Monitor and assess program quality and effectiveness and the career development and scholarly performance of students using a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods, 5) Attract outstanding pre- and postdoctoral trainees who are committed to careers in basic, translational, or clinical immunology and who will benefit from and contribute to the ITP community, 6) Provide attractive opportunities for women, underrepresented minorities, the physically disabled, and the disadvantaged to pursue careers in basic and translational immunology research. These goals will be achieved through a coordinated program of formal courses, seminars, debates, workshops, discussions, training exercises, web-based tools, and lab experiences. For the predoctoral trainees, 6 of whom are supported in any given year by this T32, the culminating experience will be completion of a doctoral thesis project in the laboratory of a chosen ITP faculty mentor/advisor/teacher. For the 2 postdoctoral fellows supported in any given year, the end result will be a level of competence that will place them on a steep trajectory towards success as independent scientists and educators. Both predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees will emerge from the ITP prepared to train "their next generation" of immunologists and to demonstrate to the public at large the enormous public health advantages of immunology research.
The proper functioning of the immune system is a critical element in resistance to bacteria, fungi, viruses, and cancer and the aberrant functioning of the immune system is responsible for the many autoimmune diseases suffered by humans. Here, we propose to train the next generation of immunologists who will address these enormous public health concerns by helping to reveal how the immune system works and by providing the scientific foundation for new vaccines and therapeutics.
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