This application requests continued support for the "Vanderbilt Infection Pathogenesis and Epidemiology Research" (VIPER) Training Program. The objective is to prepare postdoctoral fellows for careers as investigators in infectious diseases. Training is in basic laboratory research into pathogenesis using molecular and cellular methods, as well as in patient-oriented research and epidemiology / outcomes research. Training is primarily through participation in the preceptors'translational research projects in viral pathogenesis, immune pathogenesis, bacterial pathogenesis, epidemiology / outcomes /patient-oriented research that are directed toward goals of chemotherapy and vaccine development. There is broad expertise among the Program faculty and a clear, focused strength on translationally-relevant HIV and mycobacterial pathogenesis research. Participating faculty are based mainly in the Infectious Disease Divisions of Medicine and Pediatrics and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. The Program has a strong track record of joint, interactive training of post-M.D. fellows from both Medicine and Pediatrics. It also includes some post-Ph.D. trainees. There is extensive collaboration among mentors, and most are senior. Interactions between post-M.D. fellows, post-Ph.D. fellows, and Microbiology and Immunology graduate students are substantial. The program selects candidates with research career potential from M.D. applicants for ID fellowship, and from qualified PhD post-doctoral fellows. It provides training, experience, supervision, resources, and role models for independent academic careers. Long-term success is maximized by a customized research / career plan for each trainee with a dedicated mentor, while being guided and supervised by an advisory committee and the Program Director. Training is carried out in the laboratory and/or clinical research setting of the preceptor. A course in responsible conduct of research is required. A minimum of two years of research training is required for all, and physicians complete a clinical year of ID fellowship before starting VIPER training.
The continuing epidemics of HIV and tuberculosis, as well as emerging and re-emerging infections of major public health importance indicate a substantial and significant need for additional researchers who can develop vaccines and treatments for such infections.
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