This is the first competitive renewal of the Minnesota Training Program in Virology following a highly productive initial funding period. Discoveries in virology research have led to many fundamental insights into molecular and cellular processes of cells, basic mechanisms of viral replication and pathogenesis, and strategies for how host cells respond to viral infection (i.e., virus-host interactions). Viruses and their capacity to caue serious diseases and death have had a profound impact on the history of humanity and continually threaten global health and economic stability. This training program has recruited 25 accomplished preceptors with active research programs that are conducting research on a variety of important viruses. The Institute for Molecular Virology (IMV) serves as the focal point for virology research at University of Minnesota (UMN) and has championed virology research as a critically important university investment at a time of declining resources. Such investment includes a new 80,000-square-foot microbiology building to open in 2015 and $14 million for additional research infrastructure. Key highlight's of the training activities of our program inclue solid foundational coursework in virology as well as a wide-range of IMV-sponsored activities attended by both trainees and trainers that provide important intellectual, technical, and career development opportunities (i.e., weekly Virology Journal Club, monthly IMV Research in Progress seminars, quarterly IMV Innovations in Virus Research Lecture Series, annual UMN- Mayo Distinguished Lectures in Virology & Gene Therapy, the IMV Educational and Career Development Series, the annual IMV Symposium, a collaborative `Wisc-e-sota' T32 symposium, and annual sessions in Responsible Conduct in Research). Trainee participation in these training program activities have fostered the exchange of ideas and stimulated collaborative projects. Oversight of trainee progress is monitored on multiple levels, including yearly evaluations by the IMV Advisory Committee. Outstanding predoctoral trainees are attracted to the UMN. From this pool, outstanding predoctoral trainees are recruited to trainer labs by the individual strength of each trainer's research program. Trainee recruitment is enhanced by the breadth of career development opportunities provided through the IMV that include the hosting of national and international virology meetings that brings students - including underrepresented minority students - to our campus to develop long-lasting interactions with all members of our virology research community. Despite being a new training program we have a strong record of training achievement. To fulfill our training mission with our available resources we request support for 6 predoctoral positions per year for the next five year funding period.
The training of young scientists that will become the next generation of virologists is essential for our nation's capacity to respond to existing, emerging, and future viral diseases. Furthermore, research on viruses continues to lead to fundamental discoveries in biology. Through the Institute for Molecular Virology and this T32 program, the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus has established itself as a leader in virology research, with particular strengths in HIV/AIDS, herpesviruses, along with emerging and other highly pathogenic viruses.
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