This is the resubmission of a NRSA competing renewal application for Years 12-17 of a training program designed to produce investigators at the cutting edge of research in infectious diseases and immunity. Trainees will be at the postdoctoral level and a mixture of MDs and PhDs each supported for 2 years for a total request of 3 stipends/yr. to accomplish this goal. At this time, ours is the sole NRSA existing within BCM or the Texas Medical Center that supports clinical research training in non-AIDS infections and global health. Superb training opportunities exist at BCM in a number of areas. Participating projects directed by 23 mentors (8 MDs, 4 MD/PhDs and 11 PhDs) with strong records of federal funding and training experience include: 1) Cellular and Structural Biology of Innate Immunity, 2) Novel Drug-, Cell- and Probiotic-based Therapeutics, 3) Viral and Bacterial Gastroenteritis, 4) Viral and Bacterial Oncogenesis, 5) Vaccine Development and Evaluation, 6) High- resolution Structures of Viruses and Cellular Nanomachines, 7) Functional Genomics of Pathogens, and 8) Device-related Infections. Total grant support in FY2014 for the projects participating in this NRSA Program is approximately $33M. The structure of the Program for Research Training in Infections and Immunity contains three training tracks that can be pursued by trainees: 1) laboratory-based clinical research, 2) clinical trials and epidemiology research and 3) global health research. The Program Director, David J. Tweardy MD, maintains ultimate authority for the program and manages day-to-day operations. He is assisted by two other member of the Executive Committee, Associate Program Director, Mary Estes PhD, and Peter Hotez MD PhD, Dean of the National School for Tropical Medicine. Selection of trainees is performed by the Selection Committee, which includes the Executive Committee and three other program faculty. The training program for MD fellows includes research rotations to facilitate selection of a mentor. Both MD and PhD trainees have individual research committees, must prepare a written research proposal to be defended to the research committee, and have yearly reviews that include academic and career assessment. Both MD and PhD fellows are required to attend a monthly research-in-progress seminar series, a weekly journal club, and a yearly scientific social. All trainees must present at these meetings. The Adult and Pediatric Infectious Diseases Training Programs at BCM and other Departments participating in this NRSA have shown they can attract highly qualified, training- grant eligible postdoctoral trainee candidates including nearly two under-represented minority candidates per year. Twelve trainees have completed training supported by this Award, thus far. As a group, they have published a total of 118 peer-reviewed manuscripts resulting from their postdoctoral fellowship training (9.8 manuscripts per graduate;59% first-authored by the graduate). In addition, these graduates have been awarded a total of $4.9M in external funding from the NIH and other competitive sources. All but one graduate continues to pursue an academic or industry-based infectious diseases career.
The persistent threat to health posed by new emerging infectious diseases and old re-emerging infectious diseases mandates that the United States continue to train a diverse and sophisticated cadre of biomedical investigators with the research and clinical skills necessary to develop and implement new strategies to diagnose, prevent and treat them. This NRSA now in its 11th year has successfully accomplished these training objectives and holds great promise to continue along this vital path.
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