The Biodefense Research Training Program is in its 5th year. Predoctoral trainees enter the Program at the start of the 2nd graduate year, after completion of research rotations &qualifying exam. Postdoctoral fellows enter the Program after selecting a Program mentor's lab. Admission is competitive, with 16% and 3% of qualified 2nd year predoc and postdoc applicants accepted in 2006. Research encompasses the immunology, cell biology, pharmacology and microbiology of Category A-C agents of bioterrorism. The training of predoctoral students, M.D., and Ph.D. postdoctoral fellows is enriched by special activities of the Program, including a monthly breakfast research-in-progress meeting solely for the trainees chaired by the Program Director, two graduate courses in Biodefense, an expanded 2 semester course in molecular mechanisms of microbial pathogenesis and virology, an MPH degree program, Career Day, journal club, and coordination of training with the Middle Atlantic Center of Excellence for Biodefense. The Program Director is William Petri, M.D., Ph.D. who conducts Biodefense research on amoebiasis, and is Chief of the Infectious Diseases Division. An Executive Committee provides Program oversight and trainee selection. Six departments contribute a total of 18 faculty members (1 DVM, 5 MD and 16 PhD). All labs are within a 5 minute walk, and all faculty members collaborate, with 80% co-authoring papers. 100% of the preceptors are extramurally supported by the NIH through at least 2008, at an average of $900,000 in annual direct costs/faculty (a 90% increase since 2001). The average Preceptor has trained >10 pre- and/or postdoctoral students, but select "up and coming" junior faculty with less extensive training records are also included with more experienced faculty provided as co- mentors. Funds are requested to train 4 predoctoral fellows and 2 postdoctoral fellows (an increase in 1 predoctoral position). Progress includes predoctoral trainee GRE scores of 660V/690Q and GPA of 3.5, 100% of trainees in Biodefense labs, and 94% retention of trainees in the Program. 67% (12/18) of the mentors have trained at least one trainee. 17% of trainees are underrepresented minorities. Women comprise 61% of trainees and 33% of faculty. 6 trainees have graduated, with an average of 3 papers published or submitted, with 83% active in research (5/6 - the 6th is currently a stay-at-home mother). Evaluations of the Program include an annual faculty retreat and a trainee questionnaire.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Institutional National Research Service Award (T32)
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Microbiology and Infectious Diseases B Subcommittee (MID)
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Mcsweegan, Edward
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University of Virginia
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
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PĂ©rez, Natalie Marie; Ramakrishnan, Girija (2014) The reduced genome of the Francisella tularensis live vaccine strain (LVS) encodes two iron acquisition systems essential for optimal growth and virulence. PLoS One 9:e93558
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