The Mechanisms of Disease and Translational Science PhD Training Track (MoD) at the UT Southwestern Graduate School will train an elite group of PhD students to become the leaders of the next generation of translational scientists. The Graduate School's Divisions of Basic Science (DBS) and Clinical Science (DCS) will collaborate to provide students with new opportunities to study human diseases at the interface between basic and clinical sciences. MoD's primary goal is to create a new breed of PhD-level scientists capable of targeting their research programs to address unmet therapeutic and diagnostic needs of the future. Rationale: Translational research occurs in a bench to bedside &back continuum, and PhD students who engage in the early phase of translation (T1) must have a foundation in modern molecular approaches as well as in human physiology and pathology. They will also have to learn to navigate the team based clinical research environment and to communicate with clinicians. To accomplish these goals, we designed MoD as a supplemental track that is overlaid on the ten existing DBS PhD graduate programs. In this way, we synergize and complement existing programs, and are focused on creating a new training paradigm. MoD's unique training curriculum is designed to increase translational competencies and is not available in existing programs. In addition to developing MoD didactic courses, MoD has leveraged the rich clinical and translational education resources of DCS to offer structured experiences in patient care and clinical research and exposures to the opportunities and challenges of bridging basic and didactic courses. Trainees: We seek T32 funding to support 6 predoctoral PhD students in years 1 and 2, and 7 in subsequent years. MoD appointments are made to DBS students who are completing the first year of graduate training on a competitive basis. Duration: The duration of proposed training is for 16 months, although MoD track students continue to be associated with the program. We are only asking 12 months of T32 support for each student, in order to be able to appoint a constant number of new students each year. Anticipated Outcomes: The MoD Track provides unique opportunities and rigorous training to populate the early T1 translational research continuum, and T32 funding will allow us to further improve and expand our efforts to train PhD translational scientists. MoD students will be equipped with the "intellectual" and "practical" toolkits to spearhead the bidirectional translatio of discoveries to improve human health. The MoD plan is innovative, sustainable and cost-effective. It uniquely exploits existing institutional strengths to create a novel translational science training program that complements the research and educational mission of other programs on campus. It has been very successful and we anticipate that with new T32 funding it will have significant impact in the generation of a translational biomedical workforce.
The Mechanisms of Disease and Translational Science Training Track will train a new breed of PhD scientists capable of pursuing research programs to target unmet therapeutic and diagnostic needs of the future. Accelerated translation of basic science discoveries is critically important and relevant to public health.