The Integrated Training in Pharmacological Sciences Program at Mount Sinai aims to provide rigorous multi- disciplinary pre-doctoral research education that fosters the ability of Program graduates to enhance discovery of new drugs. The diverse approaches will include identification of new targets, new screens or structural information to inform drug design, methods for prediction/demonstration of the safety of a drug and its side effects, and methods to predict opportunities for re-purposing drugs that have already been in approved use. The need for scientists with such skills is clear since we face: a paucity of new therapeutics in the pipeline;a lack of effective therapeutic options for too many diseases;a perplexingly wide range of responses among different individuals to a particular drug;and a need for innovative therapeutic options that include drug combinations and new strategies to overcome drug resistance. The Training Program will engage trainees in computational and systems biological applications to the "omics" and other large data set analyses that inform new testable models of disease and reveal potential new therapeutic strategies. These approaches will become the project areas for some trainees, while others pursue structural or chemical approaches to develop information about new targets or to inform the design of new drugs. Some trainees will focus on developing the new computational tools that can be applied to disease- or therapeutic-related network analyses, while others focus on particular biomedical problems. The Training Program fosters the ability of trainees with these diverse specializations to take collaborative advantage of each other's expertise. The proposed group of up to 12 trainees per year will typically receive support from the Training Program for 2-3 years, starting after the first or first two training years for Ph.D. and MD/Ph.D. students, respectively. The Ph.D. degree is typically completed within 5.5 years from matriculation. The highly collaborative group of 42 participating faculty members comes from 11 different departments, both basic science and clinical. It includes 17 faculty members from the Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics Department and 5 from the Structural and Chemical Biology Department, the major contributing departments to the school-wide Experimental Therapeutics Institute (ETI). ETI provides research groups with access to emerging tools for drug development. Most trainees pursue their Ph.D. coursework in the Systems Biology of Disease and Therapeutics training area of the Graduate School and most participating faculty contribute to the teaching efforts. Graduates of the Program, use their training in a gratifying array of academic and pharmaceutical settings and other paths, in which they apply the special skill sets they bring from their pre-doctoral training.
Breakthroughs that yield new drugs that ameliorate different human diseases, that yield new diagnostics or new therapeutic strategies, depend more and more upon researchers who apply quantitative computational methods to the complex biology of disease and drug interactions. We aim to foster these skills in talented Ph.D. and MD/Ph.D. students, enabling them to achieve the next generation of breakthroughs.
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