The primary goal of this training program entitled "Research Training in Physiological Adaptations to Stress" is to provide a new generation of future scientists with comprehensive research training and educational experiences that emphasize a translational approach to understanding the physiological mechanisms which trigger and mediate organismal stress adaptation. An emphasis on the emerging field of personalized medicine as a model offers unique opportunities for students to think creatively about mechanisms of stress adaptation in health and disease, and to help them be innovators in biomedical research with a broad appreciation of translational science as a whole. Additionally, we propose an inter-disciplinary curriculum which better prepares students for varied career paths associated with the 21st century biomedical workforce, including some understanding of regulatory and team science. The training program takes advantage of existing faculty expertise within seven individual translational research clusters, uniting logical faculty partners within th Intercollege Graduate Program in Physiology at Penn State's University Park and Hershey campuses. General areas of emphasis along the physiological stress continuum include cardiovascular, environmental, immunological, metabolic, neuroendocrine, nutritional, and reproductive, respectively, employing in vitro and in vivo physiological systems and cutting edge technological approaches. The training program requests support for two predoctoral students in year 1 and proposes to grow over the first three years to supporting six students annually with grant funds. An additional nine student-years of support committed by units affiliated with the training program and the Office of the Penn State Vice President for Research will ensure funding for a total cohort of eight students per year when the program reaches maturity in Year 3. A foundational course entitled "Physiological Adaptations to Stress" has been designed specifically for the training program, and will serve as an early introduction to program goals and emphasizes multiple levels of scientific inquiry (cells to human). Defining a new conceptual framework for hypothesis-driven research to inform mechanisms of stress adaptation and innovative biomarkers is emphasized, within a rich academic environment with dedicated mentoring, strong research support and institutional commitment.
The role of stress as the underlying cause for human adaptation is well-appreciated. Inherent in this response is the logical progression from stress adaptation to human disease and disability, as there is little debate regarding the link between many different types of stress and the natural history of disease initiation and progression. The proposed program will focus on predoctoral scientist training in common themes of stress adaptation, and emphasize applying that knowledge to develop new research paradigms and mechanisms which will someday lead to novel therapeutic interventions.