Support is requested for predoctoral positions to establish a novel interdisciplinary training program in pharmacological sciences. The objective is to train leaders for academia, biotechnology/industrial firms, and regulatory agencies who will develop new innovations, approaches, and strategies for drug development and accelerate the rate of bringing new therapeutics to the market. Such leaders are essential if we are to reduce the enormous cost and length of time it currently takes to bring safe, effective agents to the public. The proposed training program is unique in several ways: (1) it spans the entire range of drug development from initial target identification and validation through FDA approval, (2) it is led by a PI and leadership team with extensive, first-hand experience in the pharmaceutical industry as well as academia, (3) it introduces a systems biology approach to achieving efficacy and safety by identifying and selectively modulating relevant pathways, rather than individual targets and addresses all major phases of the drug development process, and (4) it includes analyses of major successes and failures in the pharmaceutical industry and regulatory agencies. This proposal builds on a current Roadmap Training Grant that has established an effective organizational foundation for training in drug discovery and development at the Gulf Coast Consortia's Keck Center, an educational cooperative of 6 neighboring institutions - Baylor College of Medicine, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Rice University, University of Houston, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. The training faculty includes 55 members with broad research expertise and extensive training experience. Trainees will matriculate and receive first year support from their home institutions, and training grant stipends will be awarded on a competitive basis for years 2-3 of graduate training. Training will involve didactic courses, seminars, drug development team tutorials, retreats, and career development activities. These will be open to all pre- and postdoctoral trainees at the 6 institutions, and they may obtain a Certificate in Pharmacological Sciences by participating, which will greatly increase the program's impact. The home institution will award the Ph.D.
This program will train future leaders for universities, the pharmaceutical industry, and government regulatory agencies in the entire process - from basic laboratory discoveries through government approval - of providing safe, effective new drugs to the public. These leaders will decrease the current unacceptably high cost, length of time, and number of side effects now associated with developing new drugs.
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