Obesity is a major source of morbidity and mortality and of heart, lung, and blood related morbidity and mortality in particular. This application for an interdisciplinary pre-doctoral training program offers coordinated mentorship, didactic training, career development activities, and supervised research experiences to prepare PhD students for careers as independent investigators. The proposed pre-doctoral program will build on the momentum of a highly successful pilot implementation and will also complement and interface with our existing NIH-funded T32 program for post-doctoral training in obesity research. Students entering their 2nd year of PhD training will enroll in a formal integrated program tailored to individual interests. Trainees participate in the investigative programs of UAB's NIH-funded Nutrition Obesity Research Center, one of only 12 such centers nation-wide. Each trainee will have an individual mentoring team consisting of a primary mentor and two co-mentors with one mentor from each of three major disciplinary domains (Biomedical;Behavioral/Social;Quantitative/Physical). The faculty's multidisciplinary nature (physicists, physicians, psychologists, statisticians, physiologists, geneticists, epidemiologists, etc) and strong collaborative ties facilitates multidisciplinary training. Students from any UAB department may apply, but must have a mentoring team from this program's approved faculty, if selected, participate in all activities and coursework specialized for this program. Individuals will be recruited from the large pool of eligible 1st year PhD students on campus and selected via formal application and committee review, based on graduate school performance, faculty recommendations, and consideration of the degree to which their interests fit with those of the faculty and ongoing research programs. All trainees must have as a future plan an investigative career in obesity-related research. The program promotes an approach to investigation that is scientifically and ethically rigorous. Regular reviews of individual trainees with the program directors insure that adequate progress toward an independent research career is made.
Obesity is a highly prevalent condition that exacts a high price in suffering for afflicted individuals and economically for society. Causes are complex, manifold, and only partially understood and available treatments are only modest in efficacy. New scientific insights are badly needed and training a new generation of multidisciplinary obesity researchers is essential to meet that objective.
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