The immunologist of tomorrow must appreciate both basic and clinical immunology to effectively utilize modern tools of research in the pursuit of new knowledge about immune mediated and infectious diseases and their pathogenesis as well as for development of new vaccines and therapies against immune-mediated diseases. Training the scientist and the physician-scientist in immunology and its relationship to infectious diseases as well as to other related disciplines such as pathology, biochemistry, cell biology and biotechnology will be crucial for the future of immunological sciences. To facilitate the distribution of knowledge in the field of immunology, the Immunology Training Program goals are to provide fundamental and research training to 4 predoctoral and 2 postdoctoral fellows with an immunology faculty of 20 preceptors. The program is unique in that it encompasses faculty from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences and the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation as well as its strong focus on microbial as well as host immunology. The participating training faculty are particularly strong in the 4 subdisciplines emphasized in the Immunology Training Program, which include 1) Responses to Pathogens, 2) Lymphocyte Development and Signaling, 3) Inflammation, and 4) Autoimmunity. The faculty preceptors have interacted on the OUHSC campus for years, forming a network that is particularly suited to train a cohesive group of pre and postdoctoral fellows in molecular immunology. The program recruits students and fellows from national and international sources, has strong NIH funded research programs, and has new faculty and facilities, all of which foster an atmosphere of excellence in training. The predoctoral students are eligible for the training program after completion of their lab rotations and qualifying exam. The Immunology Training Program will provide in-depth enrichment in the 4 subdisciplines to the pre and postdoctoral trainees through immunology classes and retreats. Postdoctoral fellows are strongly encouraged to take coursework and to mentor predoctoral students to enhance their immunology experience. The Immunology Training Program advisory and selection committee selects the pre and postdoctoral trainees and acts in an advisory capacity. Since the beginning of the program September 1, 2001, the objectives of the program are being met to provide excellence in research, immunology course work, an immunology retreat, and an immunology journal club class for the trainees. The yearly interactive immunology retreat as well as the Immunology Journal Club class have been effective in bringing the pre and postdoctoral fellows together with the training faculty in an environment that fosters excellence. Our program has been and will continue to be important to prepare trainees for future careers in immunology.
The Immunology Training Program in Oklahoma will recruit and train students pursuing a PhD or MD degree (predoctoral trainees) or individuals who already have the PhD or MD degree (postdoctoral trainees) to perform medical and basic research in immunology. For example, trainees might study how infections affect the immune system such as in the study of immune responses to vaccines or how infections may lead to autoimmune diseases or how the immune system develops or responds to infections. Training in research laboratories of nationally and internationally recognized scientists along with a curriculum in immunology classes, retreats and national meetings will provide crucial training for the future immunologists in the United States.
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