In this application, we propose the Dartmouth Cystic Fibrosis Training Program (DCFTP) to train the next generation of researchers studying the biology and sequelae of cystic fibrosis (CF). Support is sought for a comprehensive, highly interactive, interdepartmental training program, with an emphasis on CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) trafficking and host-pathogen interactions in the context of CF. During the 5 year period of the requested support, we anticipate 12 post-qualifying exam, predoctoral students receiving a maximum of 2 years of training support. Our program has pooled the talents of dedicated investigators from a wide range of departments (our current program includes faculty in the departments of Biochemistry, Chemistry, Genetics, Medicine, Microbiology/Immunology, Epidemiology, Pediatrics, and Engineering) to provide instruction in CF-related research to PhD and MD/PhD students. In this submission, we propose to directly support four predoctoral fellows. The recently re-named Dartmouth Cystic Fibrosis Training Program will function in the context of a Research Base already rich in basic, translational, and clinical CF-related studies. The CF research program at Dartmouth has grown from three investigators and one NIH grant in 1997 to a community of world-class scientists that currently secures $69.9M in aggregate total (direct plus indirect) costs of research funding. Our program has 14 participating Training Faculty working in a range of disciplines, with CF research as the central focus; all Training Faculty conduct research, are well funded, and teach and mentor our Trainees. This group of basic- and physician- scientist researchers is actively engaged in CF-related research, with expertise in cell biology, structural biology, microbiology, immunology, genetics, bioinformatics, statistics, computational biology and proteomics. As part of developing this program, two new courses and a summer bioinformatics workshop have been developed by Training Faculty, a new Journal Club has been instituted, a joint interactive group meeting has been established, and the yearly retreat has been expanded to include academic and pharma/biotech scientists from across the Northeast, the US and the world. Training-grant funds and DCFTP-sponsored, Trainee-specific enhanced activities provide a unifying base that greatly facilitates the strikingly interactive nature of this group (evidenced by 24 collaborative publications in the last 5 years among our Training and Affiliated faculty) and the collaborative grants held by these faculty. This Program builds on the historical strengths of the investigators at Dartmouth studying CF.
The training program seeks to provide research and curricular-based training to a pool of talented and highly motivated students that have been recruited into our trainers' laboratories, with a strong focus on cystic fibrosis to provide a disease-centric training experience. Students are nurtured in a highly interactive environment in which all trainees enroll in a core course, several courses in ethics, and several advanced courses and career development workshops pertinent to their area of research training. In addition they participate in weekly seminar series and journal clubs, and present their work at joint lab meetings and retreats, as well as at an annual graduate program Research in Progress (RIP) seminar. Our trainees supported specifically by the T32 are also provided with a series of additional enrichment activities, including attending the clinical Pulmonary Conference, seminar speaker invitations with one-on-one interactions with the speaker, funds for travel to meetings as well as to attend off-site courses and career workshops, Training Committee supplemental guidance with their Individual Development Plans, a speaking slot at the annual Dartmouth CF Retreat, and leadership and mentored teaching opportunities. This training prepares our students to go on to successfully pursue a variety of professional career opportunities, many of which will positively impact the health of our citizens and those around the world, as well as enhance our national economy.