This program provides interdisciplinary training in muscle biology for pre- and postdoctoral students. The program emphasizes the functional, structural and molecular properties of skeletal, cardiac and smooth muscle, and the modification of these properties in various disease states. 17 of our faculty members come from 3 basic science departments (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and Physiology) and from the Department of Medicine at the School of Medicine, University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB), and 1 from the School of Nursing, UMB. Affiliate faculty also come from 1 department in the College of Engineering at our sister campus, University of Maryland Baltimore County and from Morgan State University. Trainees are drawn from all of the participating departments and from our interdepartmental PhD Programs. Reflecting our diversity of faculty backgrounds, the training offered ranges from the molecular biological determinants of muscle development and molecular aspects of structure and function of muscle proteins through cell biological aspects of muscle cytoskeleton and matrix, biophysical and physiological analysis of individual muscle cell function and biomechanical properties of whole muscles and muscular organs, and the effects of muscle disease at all these levels of examination. Our faculty is nationally and internationally recognized in the areas of calcium control of muscle function and muscle cytoskeleton and matrix. Our students will receive training in these and in a variety of related areas, with emphasis on the use of several complimentary techniques to approach each question under investigation. The major didactic aspect of the predoctoral training is two one- semester interdisciplinary courses on muscle that are already regularly offered by the program faculty and which have been well received by past student groups. Program activities include an annual on campus Mini-Retreat which includes trainee posters and a well known muscle researcher as program visitor and keynote speaker, a semi annual Wade Memorial lectureship and monthly Muscle Program Laboratory Rounds lunch meetings for all trainees, as well as training in professional development and grant writing, and in the responsible conduct of research. We will continue at our present level of 5 predoctoral trainees and 6 postdoctoral trainees throughout the renewal period. Entering predoctoral trainees will continue to have a solid background in biology, chemistry and/or physics, excellent GRE scores and strong letters of recommendation. Incoming postdoctoral trainees will have completed a solid PhD thesis and have strong letters of recommendation. Trainees from this program will be prepared to bring a wide range of approaches to bear on answering basic questions in muscle biology and on the bases for muscle diseases and their possible treatment and eventual cure. This program therefore serves a national need for competent multi-disciplinary investigators of muscle function and disease.
Muscular dystrophies and other primary diseases of skeletal muscle, as well as muscle dysfunction and the resulting impaired mobility occurring as a secondary effect of immobility, aging or other disease states, remain important public health issues. This program will train pre- and postdoctoral trainees in an interdisciplinary approach to the study of muscle and muscle disease at the molecular, cellular, tissue, organ and whole animal levels. Our trainees will provide an important future resource in the search for remedies and eventual cures for a variety of primary and secondary diseases of muscle.
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