Proposed is the continuation of a predoctoral training program, formerly titled the "Cellular and Molecular Parasitology Training Program", but re-named in this application the "Parasitology and Vector Biology (PVB) Training Program". This name change reflects a significant expansion of our trainer roster to include faculty researchers focusing on arboviral diseases and vector transmission, while still retaining its strong parasitology trainer core. The overall goal of the proposed PVB training program is to attract and train the next generation of parasitology/arboviral/vector biology investigators by providing opportunities to study significant, cutting-edge research problems associated with the most important neglected tropical diseases. This will be accomplished by trainees acquiring a solid foundation of basic to advanced knowledge through formal coursework, small focus groups and seminars, and combining this knowledge with the latest technologies to address challenging questions posed by a variety of host-pathogen systems available in the laboratories of our 14 faculty trainers. A wide range of human pathogens are currently under investigation including Toxoplasma, African trypanosomes, filarial nematodes, Ascaris, schistosomes, arboviruses (West Nile, Dengue, bunyavirus), as well as arthropod, mollusc and nematode vectors. Funding is requested for 5 years to support 4 predoctoral trainees per year. After matriculating into one of four designated graduate degree programs, new-entry or post-dissertator PVB trainees will be appointed for 2-3 years. In addition to meeting their degree program requirements, trainees also are required to complete a research ethics course, annually present their research in the PVB seminar series and attend lectures in the Global Health Seminar Series. In efforts to increase the diversity of graduate students seeking advanced degrees in parasitology and tropical medicine, plans are described to identify and recruit URM/disadvantaged students. An innovative plan for evaluating our training grant program involving annual multi-institution T32 parasitology retreats was piloted in the last funding cycle, and its continuation is proposed in th present application.
Diseases caused by protozoan and helminth parasites and arthropod-vectored viruses continue to affect millions of people in resource-poor developing countries, despite a vast accumulation of basic and clinical knowledge about these infectious agents. The goal of the current training program in Parasitology and Vector Biology is to recruit and train the next generation of investigators whose focus is on understanding the basic mechanisms regulating host-pathogen interactions and human transmission, thereby contributing to global efforts to control these devastating diseases.
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