Our primary objective in this new T32 proposal, "Bedside-to-Bench Research Training for Pediatric Infectious Diseases Fellows" is to train highly skilled academic physicians in translational research relevant to infectious diseases of global importance to infants and children. The long-term goal of the program is to train pediatric physician-scientists who will become NIH-funded investigators skilled in multidisciplinary research initiatives. The title of our application reflects the emphasis that will be placed on preparing trainees to become pediatric infectious disease experts capable of managing complex patient populations prior to initiation of research training. This goal will be realized by providing trainees in the first year of fellowship with intense and diverse inpatient and outpatient clinical experiences in children's hospitals in the Twin Cities. Following the first year, two years of research support will be provided for intense, mentored investigation of pathogens and pathogen-host interactions. Mentored training will take place at the recently opened Center for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Translational Research (CIDMTR) at the University of Minnesota. The CIDMTR is a collaborative, multi-departmental facility consisting of investigators from the Departments of Microbiology, Pediatrics, and Internal Medicine. CIDMTR-affiliate faculty in the Department of Microbiology will also be mentors on the T32. Of the 27 investigators identified as mentors or prospective mentors, 11 are pediatricians or have a primary appointment in the Department of Pediatrics. A core group of senior faculty with independent NIH funding and training experience will be designated as primary mentors for this program. Investigators at the CIDMTR have strong translational research programs in infectious diseases of global health significance to children, including herpesviruses, malaria, tuberculosis, salmonella, and HIV infection. Additional opportunities will be available for T32 scholars to interface with experts in genomics, pharmacology, veterinary medicine, epidemiology, and clinical trials. Fellows elect to pursue research in a translational track, or a basic science track. Within both pathways, we have developed programs to ensure that fellows will acquire the scientific background and investigative skills necessary to conduct independent translational research. In either track, fellows have opportunities to pursue a graduate course work. Fellows may register as nonmatriculated graduate students in microbiology graduate course work, or pursue a novel Master's in Translational Research program. Safeguards will ensure that graduate work does not interfere with protected time to perform research. Two MD post-doctoral fellow slots/year are requested. A Scholarship Oversight Committee and an external advisory committee of NIH-funded pediatric investigators will monitor progress of the T32 scholars. We anticipate that our trainees will be uniquely well prepared to lead translational investigative programs in pediatric infectious diseases in their academic research careers.
Infectious diseases continue to extract considerable morbidity and mortality in infants and children globally. There is a major need to translate basic research findings into more effective disease control interventions, including preventative strategies such as vaccines, and novel antimicrobial interventions. A group of experienced mentors with extensive research experience will educate pediatric infectious diseases physicians in how to conduct translational research on infectious diseases that are of importance to children throughout the world.
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