The purpose of this proposal is to re-establish a T32 training program in musculoskeletal biology at Indiana University School of Medicine. The objective of the training program is to capitalize on the IU Bone Group's scientific depth, mentoring skills, and experience to provide PhD students and postdoctoral fellows with a rich, diverse, multidisciplinary training environment in skeletal biology. The program will equip them with tools and training needed to move into successful careers as physicians, scientists, and engineers who will find new cures, develop new therapeutic treatments, and generate new devices to reduce and/or eliminate musculoskeletal disease. We have enlisted 23 participating IU training faculty to serve as mentors in this program. Our training faculty collectively span the spectrum of focus areas in skeletal science, including bone cancer and metastasis, sex hormone signaling, phosphate metabolism, biomechanics, molecular and cellular biology of bone cells, fracture healing, mechanisms of drug action, calcitropic hormones, mechanotransduction, skeletal genetics, human skeletal disease, matrix properties, cartilage biology, muscle biology, and developmental biology, among others. This group of faculty has a strong training record and has over $10M of external funding this year from the federal agencies (e.g. NIH, DOD, VA) as PIs. For the proposed 5-year duration of this program, support for 3 pre- and 3 post-doctoral trainees is requested. We have carefully crafted individual training programs for predoctoral students and postdoctoral fellows that are designed to expose trainees to a cross-disciplinary approach to skeletal research, while allowing them to focus on a particular set of research questions. Pre-doctoral students will take our in-house Basic Bone Biology course and the Responsible Conduct of Research course as part of the degree requirements; attend weekly Bone Journal Club and the monthly Bone and Mineral Club lecture series, conduct a portion of their doctoral research in an associate mentor's laboratory; attend one professional meeting per year; and attend at least one grant writing workshop that is held annually on campus. Postdoctoral fellows will engage in a similar program, but many (but not all) of the listed activities will be recommended rather than required, since postdoctoral fellows lack degree requirements. The training program is sensitive to the issue of diversity and will make every effort to recruit underrepresented minorities into the program. By training in an environment and culture that gives strong multi-disciplinary support for musculoskeletal research, there is a significant probability that the trainees will sustain a keen interest in skeltal biology, even as their specific research interests evolve over their careers.
Bone diseases present a significant burden to the health of the US population, and about 44 million Americans have, or are at risk for, osteoporosis. Treatment options for osteoporosis (and for other diseases of the skeletal tissues) need to be expanded, and we will ultimately need to call upon future generations of skeletal researchers to ensure that newer, better treatments, and potentially cures, are developed for skeletal diseases. This training grant is designed to administer an effective, cross- disciplinary training environment to optimally prepare junior scientists, physicians, and engineers for careers in bone biology and disease research.
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