The UCLA Microbial Pathogenesis Training Grant provides the foundation for an integrated research training program in the biochemistry, cell biology & genetics of microbial pathogens and host-pathogen interactions. The program's goal is to train scientists to conduct research in microbial pathogenesis using molecular, cellular, genetic, immunological, genomic and post-genomic approaches. Our training faculty includes 23 preceptors with a broad range of related research interests in the areas of bacteriology, parasitology, virology, and immunology. Faculty preceptors have excellent publication, funding and training records. The program, first funded in 1988 was continually funded for 25 years until 2013. The program is small, with six predoctoral and two postdoctoral funded positions; yet it plays a vital role, not limited to trainees, in educating PhD students and postdoctoral fellows in the field of microbial pathogenesis at UCLA. Most of our predoctoral trainees are recruited through the Biosciences Program (BSP) which will provide an excellent pool of ~45 - 55 predoctoral students yearly. In recent years >30% of entering PhD students express interests in microbiology, immunology and host:pathogen interactions. Our faculty are also highly successful in attracting qualified postdoctoral fellows, having >10 postdoctoral fellows eligible for support in any given year. Trainees are selected for funding on a competitive basis, after a thorough review of their academic and research accomplishments. Progress is reviewed at least twice a year and appointments are renewed yearly with a maximum of three years of support for predoctoral trainees and two years for postdoctoral trainees. The training program requires the completion of coursework focused on microbial pathogenesis, annual presentations of trainee research in symposia attended by all trainees and training preceptors, participation in a Microbial Pathogenesis seminar series composed of external, preeminent scientists in the field & associated literature discussions. Trainees also participate in a journal club focused on host:pathogen interactions and newly emerging infectious agents. These journal clubs are jointly facilitated by training preceptors and trainees and serve to broaden trainee education. Participation in a course devoted to ethics and accountability in biomedical research and [a scientific writing course] is also required. [All trainees will be required to develop career objectives guided by My Individual Development Plan (IDP).] [Postdoctoral trainees are also required to participate in the PhD Career Training Series and research-related career focused workshops. Career counseling by the program director and training grant advisory committee is also emphasized.] Annual research presentations at national meetings and UCLA scientific retreats are expected. The focal point of our training program is excellence in research. Several mechanisms are in place to monitor and facilitate trainee progress in research and career development. Our past training efforts have been successful and continued success is anticipated following the plan described in this proposal.
The UCLA Microbial Pathogenesis Training Program provides essential support that unites students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty conducting research on infectious diseases that cause immense morbidity and mortality. Our training program includes research on viruses, bacteria and parasites and the immune response to these agents. Trainees are broadly educated in the array of biochemical mechanisms essential for establishing and maintaining microbial infections as well as approaches used to combat diseases. Developing and achieving research career objectives are also integral components of our training program.
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