This is an application for renewal of support for a longstanding program to provide training for physicians and scientists in rheumatic disease investigation. The program is based both in the Adult and Pediatric Rheumatology Divisions at the University of Pennsylvania and draws upon broad and deep expertise in immunology, biochemistry, and pathology at Penn and its affiliates, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, The Wistar Institute, and the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. Training is requested for four postdoctoral fellows (MD, MD/PhD, or PhD) and three pre-doctoral students. Fellows are recruited from a large and talented pool and include physicians who have completed their clinical rheumatology training as well as PhD scientists working on problems related to rheumatology. Students are enrolled in Penn's highly competitive PhD and combined MD/PhD and VMD/PhD programs in Biomedical Graduate Studies, and complete rigorous coursework as well as careful scrutiny of their progress by thesis committees and mentors. Both students and postdoctoral fellows attend an excellent program of colloquia, seminars, retreats, and lectures, and are required to make presentations at seminars and journal clubs. Numerous enrichment activities associated with this program add great value to the training experience. The program has been successful in training young scientists who are making important contributions to rheumatology in academia and in industry. Recent recruitment of additional superb new faculty to Penn has made the program stronger and has attracted high quality applicants. Trainees choose mentors from a wide range of disciplines related to rheumatic diseases, from the most basic immunologists to clinical epidemiologists, allowing us to provide an outstanding experience that prepares students and fellows for the next phase in the development of their own independent research careers.
Rheumatology is undergoing rapid change due to the recent remarkable advances in genetics, immunology, cell biology and other basic sciences. In fact, among the most striking recent examples of bench to bedside translational discoveries have occurred in rheumatic disease related areas, and there is a critical need for gifted, young medical scientists to continue to translate basic knowledge into a better understanding of human disease. This program will help to provide the highly trained professionals who will use the insights from basic laboratories to help solve the long-standing mysteries of rheumatic diseases.
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