The number of promising young biomedical scientists focused on lung disease is declining to a critically low level, resulting in a pressing need to tran a new generation of researchers focused on elucidating disease mechanisms. Acute and chronic lung diseases are major causes of morbidity and mortality throughout the world. For many of these diseases, the fundamental pathobiology is not well understood and effective disease-modifying treatments are not available. This training program named "Interdisciplinary Training Program in Lung Research" focuses on training researchers in basic mechanisms of lung disease and is committed to equipping young investigators with the skill set necessary to develop into successful researchers and academic leaders. The Division of Allergy, Pulmonary, and Critical Care Medicine at Vanderbilt University and the Vanderbilt Center for Lung Research (VCLR) have a long, successful history in developing well-trained researchers who have the vision and the skills with which to embark on successful research careers. This program is housed in the VCLR, which was developed to coordinate and enhance collaborative interdisciplinary research and training. Dr. Timothy Blackwell (director of the VCLR) serves as program director. The program is designed to support post-doctoral trainees (both M.D. and Ph.D.) who show exceptional aptitude for successfully pursuing an academic research career. Trainees concentrate on one of several disease focused areas of existing expertise in the VCLR: acute lung inflammation/injury, asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, or lung carcinogenesis. A customized mentoring team is formed for each trainee, consisting of a mentor with nationally recognized expertise in the area and a research advisory committee to provide additional guidance, mentoring, and feedback. The trainee's experience is enhanced by interactions with other investigators and trainees in existing lung disease-focused research programs in the VCLR, an extensive program of seminars and conferences, and coursework tailored to meet the needs of each trainee. As a result, each trainee develops an understanding of the translational paradigm in his/her area of research and attains the academic skills necessary to become a future leader in the field of lung research.
It has never been more important than now to support the development of a cadre of biomedical research scientists and physician-scientists who collaborate to make rapid progress in determining mechanisms of lung disease and developing new therapies. This interdisciplinary program in lung research prepares future independent investigators for the unique challenges associated with advancing science and public health in pulmonary and critical care medicine.
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