This proposal is a request for funding to establish an institutional pre-doctoral training program in Infection Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign submitted by an interdisciplinary program faculty from the Departments of Microbiology and Pathobiology. The expertise of the program faculty in microbial physiology, genetics, pathogenesis, immunology, and ecology of infectious diseases will provide broad graduate training in modern molecular pathogenesis that goes beyond what is available in current graduate programs. The 19 productive researchers that make up the training faculty are highly interactive with established collaborations that cross departmental and college boundaries. The broad interdisciplinary training of these students will enhance the research efforts funded by grants from the NIH and other agencies. The training program will also facilitate interactions with scientists at other institutions by sponsoring a seminar series, by participating in a locally sponsored international conference on New and Re- emerging Infectious Diseases, and by providing support for students to attend additional national meetings to present their data to a critical audience. We request funds to support four trainees. These pre-doctoral students will be supported for a two-year period starting at the end of their second year of graduate studies, after they have completed much of their coursework, have established a thesis project, and have generated significant preliminary data. The program will enhance the training and mentorship of these students.
Infectious diseases remain the third leading cause of death in the United States and the second leading cause of death worldwide. Funding of this training program will allow us to continue to build on our tradition of training high-quality scientists and to foster a growing community of interactive biologists working on high-impact timely problems across all areas of infectious disease.
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