The Immunology and Microbial Pathogenesis Research Training Program of the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences takes advantage of the breadth and depth of basic and clinical research talent among the component institutions (Weill Cornell Medical College [WCMC], Sloan Kettering Institute [SKI], and Hospital for Special Surgery [HSS]) to provide a unique environment in which we strive to train the next generation of leaders in immunology and microbial pathobiology. Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are exposed to cutting edge immunology and infectious disease research ranging from basic structural biology and X-ray crystallography studies to clinical trials of immunotherapies that grew out of basic research in Immunology and Microbial Pathogenesis (IMP) Program laboratories. Each component institution has particular strengths to lend to the training: Inflammation and infectious disease (WMC), tumor immunology (SKI), and autoimmunity (HSS). However, the Program has been so successful in fostering tri- institutional interactions and collaborations among the faculty and trainees, that there is substantial overlap in the expertise at each institution. The result has been to foster tri-institutional interactions and collaborations. Most of the educational activities of the predoctoral and postdoctoral training segments of this Program are combined, resulting in a rich training experience for both groups. Graduate students as well as fellows actively participate in Research-in-Progress seminars, the IMP Retreat, Advanced Topics in Immunology courses, and external speaker seminars. Feedback from trainees is actively sought to change and improve the training program. The graduate program leading to a Ph.D. degree is open to students who hold a Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, as well as to individuals who already hold an advanced degree and wish to train for an independent academic research career in IMP. Acceptance into the Program is based on college GPA and GRE scores, research experience, letters of recommendation, and a personal interview. We have special programs in place to recruit underrepresented minorities. Students are required to take a core curriculum in Immunology and related biomedical sciences and pass a rigorous Admission to Candidacy exam prior to joining a thesis lab. Graduate studies generally take six years to complete. Our IMP Program has been growing, with increased numbers of highly qualified students, so we project expanding this training program from 4 to 6 predoctoral trainees.
Health is virtually impossible without a competent immune system. In addition to the obvious infectious consequences of impaired immunity, dysregulation of immune control can lead to diseases as diverse as atherosclerosis, diabetes and cancer. In turn, these diseases also have immunologic consequences. The diverse expertise of our faculty provides trainees with a deep understanding of the basic mechanisms of this interplay and leaves them well-equipped to take their places as future leaders in the field.
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