The purpose of this training program is to prepare MD, MD/PhD, or PhD postdoctoral fellows for research careers in the multidisciplinary field of Transfusion Medicine. Since 1985, 60 individuals have participated in this Training Program at the University of Pennsylvania. With few exceptions, all trainees have pursued careers in academic medicine and have continued on in either clinical or basic research having obtained many federal and non-federal grants along the way. Of the 50 who have completed training so far, 30 trainees have become directors or associate directors of academic blood banks, blood centers, and associated clinical laboratories (coagulation, hematology, molecular diagnostics) across the United States and are highly- regarded members of the transfusion medicine community. Because of the many interested, qualified applicants and our successful training record, the program was awarded this T32 training grant beginning in 1994. This has allowed us to provide support for 25 of the 60 individuals. The uniqueness of this program lies in the availability of a broad-based research environment coupled with a well-established clinical Transfusion Medicine fellowship. This represents one of few such Transfusion Medicine postdoctoral training programs in this country. Research trainees conduct independent research for at least 2 years in the laboratory of an experienced mentor. Mentors are selected among faculty with interests that span broad areas of transfusion medicine research including red cell and platelet membrane biochemistry and structure, blood component and derivative utilization, hematopoiesis and stem cell biology, blood coagulation, immunology and autoimmunity, transfusion-transmitted diseases, and cellular engineering/gene therapy. Opportunities to coordinate trainee research experience with the University of Pennsylvania's Masters in Translational Research Program are available along with a significant emphasis in biotechnology, personalized and regenerative medicine, and bench-to-bedside translation, areas in which our institution has invested considerable resources since our last competitive renewal. The mentors selected for this program include many senior scientists with extensive experience training postdoctoral fellows and with current, active, inter-laboratory collaborations. In addition to investigative work, the Training Program comprises an integrated mix of educational components including didactics, journal clubs, seminars, and venues for presentation of trainees'research. The program plan includes specific steps for the training of MD's with little research experience or PhD's in disease-related topics, and for the recruitment and retention of trainees from underrepresented minority groups or who are disadvantaged or disabled. Educational programs for trainees in the responsible conduct of research, bioethics, grant writing, public speaking, laboratory safety and management, career development, and business etiquette are also included. The program's Director, Co-Director, and Oversight Committee strive to design an educational experience individually tailored for each trainee.
This T32 training grant has supported postdoctoral trainees interested in research in Transfusion Medicine, a multidisciplinary field that encompasses blood components and transfusion, hematopoiesis and stem cell biology, blood coagulation, immunology, autoimmunity, transfusion-transmitted infectious diseases, and cellular engineering/gene therapy. Research in these areas has great clinical significance particularly with respect to developing methods for individualized therapy, regenerative medicine, and the ultimate translation of laboratory findings to a patient's bedside. A renewed T32 will enable us to continue to provide the highest quality research opportunities and mentoring to young investigators interested in pursuing these areas important to the treatment of human disease.
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