This T32 renewal application represents a highly productive, unique, and interdisciplinary Training Program in Neurovirology at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn). Since 1979, we have successfully trained more than forty-five postdoctoral researchers and graduate students for careers in neurovirology and related fields. The program includes ten experienced investigators from three schools at Penn and two additional investigators from other local institutions (Fox Chase, Jefferson). New trainers, Samantha Soldan and Matthew Weitzman (both at Penn) and Matthias Schnell (Jefferson) have been added to further enhance this dynamic program. Our training program has been successful in meeting its mission to identify, mentor and develop future leaders dedicated to biomedical research in the field of neurobiology. We have exceeded our goals to provide opportunities for the following: (1) pre- and postdoctoral research presentations with peer- and mentor-provided critiquing; (2) collaborative project development; (3) enhanced neurobiology research and scholarly interactions within and among institutions in the region (Penn, Fox Chase, Temple, Jefferson, Drexel, Johns Hopkins, and Princeton). During the last funding period, this T32 supported seventeen trainees (seven predoctoral students and ten postdoctoral researchers (including one diversity trainee) under eleven different mentors. Each trainee completed his/her PhD degree or post-doctoral fellowship with at least one peer- reviewed publication, formal oral research presentations in our regular monthly Neurobiology seminar series, and annual participation in at least one national scientific meeting. Past trainees are now established investigators (D. Kolton/Penn Professor; S. Soldan/Penn Asst. Prof.; L. Rong /Univ. of Illinois, Chicago, Professor). Enhanced neurobiology research and scholarly interactions are evidenced by our new neurobiology graduate course (Pathophysiology of Neuroinflammation and Infection in the CNS, 2008), the first Philadelphia-wide Neurobiology Symposium (2012), a new Philadelphia-wide neuroAIDS symposium series (co-established with Temple and Drexel, 2013), and our participation in the Johns Hopkins Encephalitis Symposium (2011). Continued institutional support is provided by the Penn School of Medicine for predoctoral trainees (21 funded months), and postdoctoral trainees (Biomedical Postdoctoral Programs, Susan Weiss, Director). Additional recent enhancements include an Individualized Development Plan for each trainee, a responsible conduct of research component to our monthly meetings, a career panel of alumni of the program and Penn Neurobiology LinkedIn and Facebook groups to track and network with past trainees. The Penn Neurobiology T32 program is distinguished by its: (1) depth and number of research and training opportunities across Schools of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Dental Medicine and additional regional institutions; (2) breadth of pathogenic human and animal viruses studied; and (3) unmatched mentoring expertise in basic and translational neurobiology research.
We propose to renew a long-standing Training Program in Neurobiology at the University of Pennsylvania. This Program will support the research training of two predoctoral and two postdoctoral investigators per year in one of eleven laboratories directed by twelve well-established and outstanding Principal Investigators. The goal is to provide focused training in neurobiology and virology to a talented group of future scientists with the goal of understanding the pathogenesis of viruses that infect the nervous system and, in the long term, designing therapies to address the public health problem caused by these infections.
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