This is a new application requesting support for a NRSA Institutional Research Training Grant (T32), "Training in Molecular Dermatology and Cutaneous Connective Tissue Diseases". The general objective of this Program is to provide rigorous scientific training to: (a) highly motivated physicians committed to become members of the next generation of physician/scientists in the context of extended residency training in dermatology;(b) highly qualified Ph.D.s committed to conduct basic science research applicable to dermatology and connective tissue diseases;and (c) dermatology residents who seek training in clinical translational research under the guidelines of the American Board of Dermatology. The program is designed to provide (a) closely supervised, intensive laboratory research training emphasizing the application of state-of-the-art methods of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, Human Genetics and Biochemistry towards the investigation of the etiology, pathogenesis, and treatment of diseases affecting cutaneous connective tissues, and/or (b) structured translational clinical research training in the context of a NIH-sponsored program in Human Clinical Investigation (K30). The successful candidates admitted to the program are selected on the basis of their exceptional promise in biomedical research, strong interest in cutaneous biology, and the firm commitment to academic medicine. The interdisciplinary and interdepartmental body of mentors represents the broad scientific expertise of the faculty of Jefferson Medical College, the core faculty members being from the Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Biology. This faculty has long-term commitment and established track record in training physician/scientists and Ph.D.s in connective tissue research, with strong commitment to the recruitment of underrepresented minorities, particularly women and Hispanic individuals. The program faculty has been in the past highly successful in training individuals who have remained in the academic spheres of biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology, and molecular genetics, as they relate to dermatology, cutaneous biology and connective tissue diseases;several previous fellows trained by the faculty have remained as full- time academicians, many of them in leadership positions in dermatology and other clinical disciplines. The training program consolidates various training activities into a unified program which will focus on the study of skin disorders and connective tissue diseases. The training opportunities offered have the unifying goal of preparing the trainees in the application of the most advanced methods of molecular biology, genetics, cell biology, biochemistry, and human clinical investigation to the study of broad spectrum of conditions affecting the connective tissues. At the completion of the program, trainees will be prepared to obtain academic appointments and to pursue careers as physician/scientists, clinical investigators or as Ph.D.s capable of establishing independent research programs in the areas relevant to dermatology and connective tissue diseases.
There is a paucity of M.D.s and Ph.D.s engaged in research concentrating on molecular biology and genetics of skin diseases with connective tissue involvement. This new training program will provide opportunities for M.D.s in the context of their clinical residency training, and for Ph.D.s as post-doctoral fellows to develop their basic science research skills. Finally, there is a pathway for dermatologists to develop skills in clinical translational research in the context of an Institutional Clinical Research Training Program as we anticipate that these individuals will be part of the leadership of the next generation of physician-scientists and researchers in cutaneous biology and dermatology research.