This proposal requests support for the predoctoral student Virology Training Program (VTP) at Vanderbilt University. The primary goal of the Vanderbilt VTP is to identify, mentor, and foster the careers of future leaders in academic biomedical science who are dedicated to research in the area of virology. This is an application for a new integrated training program;however the investigator group is remarkably experienced in training both predoctoral and postdoctoral scientists for careers in virology. The program is based on rigorous training in virology and interdisciplinary research areas that contribute to studies of viruses. Successful completion of the VTP leads to the Ph.D. degree. Core elements of the program include formal coursework in virology and immunology, a literature-based seminar series, career development workshop, invited scientist speaker series, and an annual retreat. Formal instruction in responsible conduct of research is provided throughout the curriculum. An integrated mentoring program offers opportunities for student advising by faculty members. The applicant pool results from concerted recruiting efforts, including those focused on the recruitment of students from groups underrepresented in medicine. The educational environment for scientists in virology at Vanderbilt University is outstanding. The investigator group holds approximately $9 million dollars in investigator-initiated extramural research funding in the area of virologic sciences. The institution also hosts a large number of NIH funded multi-investigator research efforts in this area including the SouthEast Regional Center of Excellence in Biodefense, a Center for AIDS Research, an NIAID Vaccine Testing and Evaluation Unit, an HIV Vaccine Testing Network site. The program is supported by faculty mentors from the Departments of Biological Sciences, Microbiology and Immunology, Adult Infectious Diseases, Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Pathology, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and from research centers including the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center, Center for Structural Biology, and the Lamb Center for Pediatric Research. The proposal requests funded positions for 2 new students a year (effectively 4 steady state trainees in the program during each after year 1). This request for support for the Vanderbilt VTP is based on the strength of the applicant pool, enhanced opportunities for training scientists in virology, and an institutional commitment to the education of leaders in virologic research.
The Vanderbilt Virology Training Program will support the predoctoral training of basic scientists who seek to define fundamental mechanisms underlying viral replication, pathogenesis, structure-function relationships, and host-pathogen interactions. The broad significance of this program will be realized through the academic and scholarly accomplishments of the trainees focused on discovery of basic mechanisms underlying virus biology.
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