The UT Gastroenterology / Hepatology research training program is aimed at producing the next generation of scientific leaders focused on understanding digestive and liver diseases. The program involves a variety of disciplines broadly categorized into two main areas: basic scientific research and patient-oriented clinical and translational research. The training program accepts primarily individuals with a background in Internal Medicine (M.D. or M.D./Ph.D. candidates), but also provides opportunities to trainees in Pediatrics, Surgery or Pathology. In addition, trainees without clinical training (Ph.D. candidates) are also part of our program. One unique characteristic is the inclusion of a significant proportion of minority trainees, primarily of Hispanic origin. Trainees benefit from a vast array of potential mentors including 35 Faculty that participate directly in this program, as well as a very rich milieu of scientific investigators across our campus. The scientific base of th training program includes research expertise in multiple areas critically important to the field such as mucosal immunology, microbial-host interactions, and inflammatory bowel disease;intestinal stem cells and malignant transformation in the GI tract, particularly the esophagus and colon;cancer prevention and screening;morphogenesis of the digestive system;obesity, liver steatosis, lipid metabolism and gallstone disease;immune responses in the liver and acute liver failure;hepatic fibrosis and portal hypertension;and, viral hepatitis and anti-viral immunity. Th training curriculum is flexible, but has two basic components. First, all of our trainees participae in a structured lecture series that highlights cutting edge research in fields of gastroenterology and hepatology. Similarly, a course in responsible conduct of research developed by the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences is a core component of the training experience. In addition to core educational activities, direct training in research takes place primarily under th research mentor's guidance in a basic laboratory or as part of a clinical research group. Typically, our trainees devote 2 to 3 years to their research enterprise. The basic science training experience includes learning a variety of techniques in biochemistry, physiology, molecular biology and genetics, as well as participation in scientific meetings relevant to the particular discipline. On the other hand, clinical and translational research involves formal training in study design, including ethics and biostatics, through a Master's program in Clinical Science offered at our University. Finally, for our trainees with a clinical background in Internal Medicine, this research training program is integrated with our clinical fellowship in Gastroenterology and Hepatology, which includes a minimum of 18 months of dedicated clinical rotations. Therefore, in most instances the training period will last from 4 to 6 years for the fiv individuals for whom support is being requested. Altogether, this program is designed to train individuals who will be effective investigators and academic leaders in the fields of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
Digestive and liver diseases contribute to 9.8% of all causes of mortality and are the source of substantial healthcare direct costs in the USA, estimated at $97.8 billion in 2004. Thus, this group of disorders represents a major public health problem that requires significant research into disease prevention and treatment. This grant will support a training program aimed at preparing the next generation of scientists focused on digestive and liver disorders.
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