This is a revised application for a Rheumatology Training Grant at the University of Michigan that aims to prepare qualified individuals for careers as independent investigators in basic, translational or clinical research in systemic rheumatic diseases. The proposed Training Program Director is Dr. Alisa Koch, an experienced scientist and mentor, who will be assisted by Drs. David Fox and Mariana Kaplan. Trainees will focus on clinical, translational or basic research related to rheumatic diseases. Eligible M.D. candidates will have completed most of their clinical training in adult or pediatric Rheumatology and must demonstrate a strong interest in research and in an academic career. Eligible Ph.D. candidates, with a degree in a relevant area of the life sciences, must seek to focus their career on rheumatic disease research. The Training Program includes a structured series of basic science lectures and research conferences designed to give trainees a conceptual framework in the relevant areas of science, and a thorough understanding of the disease entities related to their research project. This is supplemented by additional required course work in relevant areas of basic, translational and clinical research. The research training period includes at least two years of research experience, with minimal concurrent clinical commitments. The faculty mentors for the Training Program include 21 M.D., Ph.D., and M.D./Ph.D. investigators with tenure track faculty appointments at the University of Michigan, 10 of whom are in the Division of Rheumatology, nine in other Departments or Divisions, and one in both Rheumatology and Geriatrics. The areas of scientific expertise represented include immunology and inflammation, cell and molecular biology, and clinical investigation in the rheumatic diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), scleroderma (SSc), and fibromyalgia. These faculty have a strong record of discovery in areas such as the molecular basis of autoimmunity, the role of angiogenesis in inflammation, interactions between immune cells and tissue cells that lead to end-organ damage, vascular complications of autoimmune disease, and clinical investigations in SLE, SSc and fibromyalgia. The research programs of the Training Program are supported by substantial external research funding, more than 20,000 square feet of laboratory space, the University of Michigan Rheumatic Diseases Core Research Center, and large cohorts of patients with systemic rheumatic diseases. This Division of Rheumatology has a strong record of producing leaders in academic rheumatology and related fields. The faculty, facilities, and training plan outlined in this proposal will provide an outstanding framework for augmenting these accomplishments.
Rheumatic diseases are a common cause of disability and accelerated mortality, but there is a shortage of investigators trained to tackle the challenging research issues in this field. The proposed training plan is designed to develop MD and PhD scientists, including women and members of minority groups, who will focus their careers on discovering the causes, treatment and prevention of these diseases.
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