This is an application for a Training Program in Bacterial Pathogenesis, Vaccine Development, and Biodefense at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), jointly sponsored by our sister institutions, the Memphis VA Medical Center and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (SJCRH), an internationally known pediatric catastrophic illness hospital. Support is requested for two pre-doctoral trainees, to be reserved for underrpresented minorities (URMs). The Training Program is designed as an integral component of the UTHSC Microbial Pathogenesis Center, a campus-wide and inter-institutional organization with a mission to promote and facilitate high quality research by Ph.D. and M.D. investigators in the field of microbial pathogenesis. There are 30 investigators in the Center from 7 departments of UTHSC, from the Infectious Diseases Department and Children's Infection Defense Center at SJCRH, and from the VA Medical Center. Trainees will be mentored by 13 training faculty whose research focus is bacterial pathogenesis. All are members of the Microbial Pathogenesis Research Center and members of the UTHSC graduate faculty. Graduate students will be recruited from the UTHSC Integrated Program in Biomedical Sciences (IPBS), which has a solid history of successfully recruiting URM students. The IPBS provides a common interdisciplinary curriculum for the first semester. Students that select the Microbial Pathogenesis, Immunology, and Inflammation Track will then enroll in specialized courses. URM students mentored by a trainer in this Track will be eligible to compete for support. The infrastructure of the Microbial Pathogenesis Research Center provides a rich environment of seminars, courses in pathogenesis and experimental design, and campus-wide data conferences and journal clubs to augment the mentored lab experiences of trainees that comprise the foundation of the training program. The involvement of the three institutions will ensure comprehensive training of future researchers on the mechanisms and treatment of infections of adult, pediatric, and immunocompromised populations. The training of URM students will produce role models for future students entering these important fields of bacterial pathogenesis research.
High quality training in bacterial pathogenesis, vaccine development, and bioterrorism research is of increasing importance with each passing year. Moreover, there is an acute shortage of underrepresented minority role models in these fields. This training application addresses both of these needs by reserving both of the requested pre-doctoral training slots for URM students..
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