The Training Program in Integrative Membrane Biology (TPIMB) is designed to train predoctoral students in the biology, biophysics, and physiology of biological membranes. Now in its 3rd decade, the TPIMB continues to lead the effort in interdisciplinary training at the interface of molecular, cell, and systems biology at th University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM), by focusing on the role of the cell membrane and intracellular membranes in mediating and integrating the functions of cells and their interactions with the environment. The program is guided by the idea that studies of membrane biophysics and physiology, and of membrane-based signaling cascades, can provide unique insights into the biology of cells and tissues, in both healthy and diseased states. The faculty of the TPIMB, now numbering 37 individuals, are well funded, highly interactive, and devoted to mentoring students studying a broad range of subjects related to Membrane Biology. Mentors are selected for their interests, extramural support, and commitment to mentoring. Trainees are also selected based on their interests, as well as graduate course grades, standardized test scores, recommendations, and previous research experience. A core course in Cell and Molecular Biology, common to all laboratory research- based graduate education at UM SOM, is required. Students are also required to take a series of upper level courses on membrane biochemistry and biophysics, and on links between membrane defects and human diseases, as well as a class in research ethics. They also take introductory and/or advanced courses in Cellular and Systems Physiology, Pharmacology, or Neuroscience. Trainees participate regularly in student-oriented activities, such as seminars, monthly get-togethers, and an annual retreat. The UM SOM supports this program generously through contributions to faculty salary, additional stipends for students, and funds for the TPIMB's regular activities. Current NIH funding supports 7 trainees but leaves many following our curriculum and taking part in our activities without support. The strength of our graduate training efforts, successes in recent recruitment, and the stable federal funding at the UM SOM suggest that continued funding for our program is well justified. With continued support, the faculty and students in the TPIMB can continue to spearhead the effort to integrate training in cell and systems biology at the UM SOM.
This grant provides financial support for seven students in the early phase of their doctoral training in the study of biological membranes. The cell membrane is the 'bag' that encloses the contents of every cell in the body. It contains within it proteins that respond to chemical cues from the cell's environment and then change the behavior of the cell. As the cell's behavior changes, other proteins in the cell membrane send out chemical signals that change the way the body behaves. A better understanding of this bidirectional communication across the cell membrane is important for understanding the causes of many diseases and how to better treat them.
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