The proposed renewal of the T32 postdoctoral training program (EB005583) preserves the past focus on the areas of biomaterials science and tissue engineering, and extends the thematic landscape to broader challenges in regenerative medicine, with emphasis on stem cell based technologies. In doing so, the proposed program will continue its successful aspects: interdisciplinary collaboration and mentorship, accessibility to advanced resources and expertise, well-defined co-mentorship formats, and active progress tracking. The renewal plan adds three new overarching aims: 1. Expand the scientific content and faculty/institutions to emphasize regenerative medicine therapies, with increased interdisciplinary collaboration among materials scientists, pharmaceutical scientists and biologists, including a new focus on stem cells and translational research. Only stem cells compliant with federal guidelines will be used in the projects supported by T32 funding. 2. Increase the participation of clinicians, among both faculty and trainees. 3. Broaden the mentoring landscape from a single region/institution model to a more diverse and vibrant community of mentors and trainees, giving trainees a better critical mass of resources and mentors. This program will strongly emphasize translational research in order to prepare trainees to meet the critical challenges of regenerative healthcare for our aging population. There are substantial barriers to the commercialization of stem cell based therapies because of the still emerging nature of the technology, the ethical debates surrounding its use, and the uncertain nature of the business model for individualized products. As an adjunct to the core research experience, trainees will become familiar with the basic concepts and processes of clinical research and of commercialization that create the ultimate societal benefit of research. Faculty based in four geographic clusters (New Jersey-Pennsylvania, Boston MA, Rochester MN, and Cleveland OH) will host and mentor a total of eight trainees each year in interdisciplinary research projects drawing upon the strengths of the faculty laboratories and institutions. Each trainee will have a group of two to three mentors who will bring complementary expertise to the intensive two-year research experience (one year for clinicians). Required and elective didactic elements will provide background in scientific topics such as stem cell biology and biodegradable polymers, and in translational science topics such as regulatory processes and clinical trials research. Electronic technologies for online instruction and research collaboration will be implemented to facilitate creation of a distributed training community. All participants will attend an annual one- week workshop at Rutgers.
This NRSA postdoctoral training program will offer collaborative research experiences built on core disciplines of biomaterials science, cell biology and pharmaceutical science. A geographically dispersed training community of eight trainees and 15 faculty mentors will engage in translational research to develop regenerative therapies based on tissue engineering, stem cells and drug delivery approaches. Both face-to-face and electronic interactions will be employed.
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