The Molecular Mechanisms in Microbial Pathogenesis Training Program is an established and successful program at the University of Michigan Medical School. It supports six predoctoral students and two postdoctoral fellows per year in the highly interdisciplinary environment of Michigan. Training takes place both in the laboratory with well-qualified and committed research mentors and within the larger Department in courses, seminars, journal clubs and career development activities. Students are recruited to Michigan through a common mechanism called the Program in Biomedical Sciences (PIBS) an interactive confederation of 14 degree-granting programs based in the UM Medical School. Students matriculating through PIBS participate in a first year program that focuses them on individual career development as young scientists and on identifying and selecting one of the 14 programs from which to obtain their degrees. At the end of their first year of training, they can b nominated for support by MMMP based on evidence of a strong interest in research into the roles of microbes in health and disease. Coursework requirements for the program is aligned with that of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and MMMP trainees also have the opportunity to participate in the course Science in the Clinics, the centerpiece of the MMMP curriculum. In this course, MMMP trainees explore the infectious diseases from a translational perspective, learning to connect the basic research and training they are receiving with clinical and therapeutic features of infectious disease medicine as it is practiced on the wards. Over the years the course has been attractive to fourth year medical students as well as students in the Medical Scientist Training Program, who gain an appreciation for the most recent science behind infectious diseases problems and the mechanisms of pathogens that may serve as new therapeutic or vaccine targets they might one day use in their careers as physicians. MMMP trainees also have the opportunity to host and visit extensively with visiting scientists in the "Young Investigators" program, which brings investigators to campus for seminars on their research and meetings with trainees to discuss career path choices they were faced with as trainees themselves. Recent efforts to recruit postdoctoral trainees to the UM Medical School through a common mechanism similar to how students are recruited have already been successful in identifying strong candidates for the MMMP Program. New efforts for the upcoming funding period of the MMMP Training Program include incorporating significant new research training in microbiome and bioinformatics and working closely with the Office of Student Success at the Rackham Graduate School on a program of career engagement and development.
Microbes threaten human health through their ability to cause disease, generate and spread antibiotic resistance and contaminate the food supply. They have beneficial effects on human health, however, by stimulating development of the immune system, providing resistance to colonization by pathogenic microbes and metabolizing food. This program provides comprehensive training and professional development opportunities for predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows passionate about uncovering and translating new knowledge in the field of microbial pathogenesis and the biology of host-microbe interactions.
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