A group of investigators seeks to renew support for the Minnesota Muscle Training Program (MMTP), the NIH T32 interdisciplinary training program in muscle research at the University of Minnesota, for both predoctoral and postdoctoral scientists. This program began in 2001 with a primary focus on basic muscle research. Since that time, UMN has placed a high priority on the expansion of muscle research at all levels, particularly translational research, aimed at the development of new therapeutic approaches. The institution has recruited internationally prominent researchers in muscle disease and therapy and has established new facilities that support this research. In the previous funding period, further developments have led us to improve the quality of an already outstanding training program (which received a perfect score of 10 in the previous renewal in 2011), as measured by the funding and training records of the faculty; and by the number of qualified trainees, their publication record during training, and their research career success after training. Program faculty are drawn from several departments, but their graduate students are enrolled in the interdepartmental graduate programs in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics (BMBB) or Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology and Genetics (MCDBG), which share a common admissions program (Molecular Cellular and Structural Biology, MCSB) and first-year curriculum. The intellectual center of the training program is an intensive one-semester course entitled ?Muscle,? directed by the MMTP Director and taught by the MMTP faculty, which emphasizes both basic and translational research. This course has been expanded to accommodate an increasing emphasis on muscle disease and therapy. This is augmented by a weekly Muscle Journal Club, a biweekly internal seminar program, a monthly external seminar including international leaders in muscle research, and an annual MMTP Symposium in which all members of the training faculty?s research groups actively present and discuss their research, featuring a keynote speaker who is an internationally prominent muscle researcher. A significant strength of the MMTP is its leadership. The Director (Thomas), who founded the program in 2001, is a world leader in the molecular biophysics of muscle, has had NIAMS funding continuously since 1983 (including a MERIT Award), and has mentored more than 70 predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees, most of whom have gone on to productive independent careers in muscle research. The Co-Director (Ervasti) is a world leader in the biochemistry of muscle disease, has had NIAMS funding continuously since 1994, and is Research Director for the Muscular Dystrophy Center, which is closely associated with MMTP. The University provides strong institutional support for MMTP, including a generous offer of matching funds. The primary goal of MMTP is to help these exceptional predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees to develop the intellectual and technical tools needed for productive careers as independent investigators and educators in muscle research.

Public Health Relevance

Minnesota Muscle is a training program in basic and translational muscle research, for both predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees. The program has been extremely successful in its first 15 years, as measured by the publications and research career trajectories of past predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees. Recent additions of outstanding faculty and core facilities have improved an already stellar training program.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
Institutional National Research Service Award (T32)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAR1-YL (M1))
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Boyce, Amanda T
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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Schools of Medicine
United States
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