The breadth of interdisciplinary research teams is expanding dramatically. At the intersection of environment and health, in particular, teams increasingly need strong grounding in basic biology and genetics while at the same time need increasingly sophisticated analyses of disease models. Only then will they be prepared to study the interaction of susceptibility genes with environmental exposures. For that reason we have adopted the approach that the modern trainee cannot be expected to do it all;rather, to succeed he or she will need to be prepared with the strongest possible disciplinary foundation together with the tools needed to work effectively with others outside their own discipline. From a large and talented pool of applicants, we select outstanding BS and DVM trainees who seek the PhD or ScD degree, and outstanding PhD, MD, and DVM trainees who make a 3-year commitment to postdoctoral training in interdisciplinary pulmonary sciences. Trainees with backgrounds in biology, medicine, engineering, and physics work side-by-side on problems at the intersection of pulmonary sciences and environmental exposures. These trainees benefit from working with each other, working with trainees not supported by this T32, and working with a well-funded interdisciplinary faculty. This faculty addresses three main problems: air pollution, lung infection, and asthma. The theme of pulmonary inflammation spans these foci. Another theme is a strong emphasis on engineering and physical sciences. Bridging the gap between the life sciences and the physical / engineering sciences has been a longstanding goal of our program. These themes foster exceptional levels of collaboration among a faculty with unusually diverse expertise and interests. They form the faculty into a cohesive interdisciplinary team elucidating basic mechanisms of lung disease. Our Program offers access to excellent facilities and unique nanotechnologies, and is designed so that trainees will: 1) master modern technologies of cell and molecular biology as well as integrative physiology;2) learn the relative strengths and weaknesses of different approaches, 3) design experiments effectively and interpret data critically, 4) adapt well to change, and 5) build successful careers as responsible members of the scientific community. In the past 34 years of our T32 we have never had an unfilled slot. In the past 10 years of our T32, 6 of our trainees were underrepresented minorities and 27 have completed training. 25 are currently working in science, including 7 in industry and 18 in academia at the rank of assistant professor or higher.
Our training program addresses three main problems: air pollution, lung infection, and asthma. The theme of pulmonary inflammation certainly spans these problems, as does a strong interdisciplinary emphasis on bridging the gap between the biological sciences and the physical sciences. These bridging themes form our faculty into a cohesive interdisciplinary training program elucidating basic mechanisms of lung disease.
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