Developments in virology have led to the advancement of several disciplines, including gene therapy. Gene therapy holds promise of therapeutic options for a variety of diseases. The key issue in gene therapy is the development of delivery vehicles. To fulfill the national need, the UCLA Virology and Gene Therapy Training Program aims to provide a unique and outstanding environment for predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees pursuing research careers in fields related to gene therapy. This Program will establish a solid training in fundamental virology and its applications in gene therapy. The research interests of our faculty encompass viral entry, viral gene expression regulation, replication of viral genome, cell biology during viral infection, viral particle assembly, viral carcinogenesis and viral immunology, as well as designing novel vectors and tracking viral vectors in vivo. With strong basic research programs on retroviruses, adenoviruses, SV40, hepatitis C, poliovirus, influenza virus and herpesviruses, our faculty has been and will be continuously developing viral vectors from these viruses and monitoring gene expression in vivo using non-invasive imaging technologies. The trainees will be exposed to clinical and diagnostic issues during their training to assist the therapeutic applications of their research projects, and be encouraged to form translational collaborations with basic and clinical mentors. This bridge in training environment will enhance the translation from basic science to clinical application in gene therapy. The training program constitutes 1) original research work with one or more of our faculty;2) formal course work which provides comprehensive background on virology, gene therapy, and imaging;and 3) regular research conferences and seminars, presented by invited guest speakers, faculty members and trainees. The training committee will select trainees via a competitive process. Appointments are renewable with satisfactory progress (up to three years predoctoral, 2 years postdoctoral). At UCLA, this rigorous training program with emphasis on vertical integration of basic sciences and therapeutic applications produces the scientists required for long-term development of virology and gene therapy.
One of the most promising fields of medical advancement is gene therapy, in which changes to genes are introduced to correct genetic issues that lead to human disease development, including cancer, AIDS, and immune disorders. Because of the natural ability of viruses to deliver genes to cells in another organism, they are used as the vector to deliver the new genes to a patient. This training program is designed to produce future scientists in the fields of virology and gene therapy that will be able to design, new, more effective virus vectors, understand how to apply these vectors to human diseases and ensure that new gene therapies are available in the future.
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