Early exposure of medical students to research and effective, ongoing mentorship are key predictors of success in developing successful physician-scientists. The purpose of this application is to provide intensive, transformative basic or clinicl research training in diverse NIDDK mission areas to promising medical students during the summer between their first and second years. The long-range goals of the program are to enhance the professional development of trainees as eventual independent investigators in the target areas, and to develop innovative and effective approaches to accomplish this that can serve as a model for other programs. The program has as its foundation an intensive research experience under the mentorship of exceptional faculty with proven track records of excellence in research and funding, supplemented with workshops on laboratory safety, bioethics and the responsible conduct of research, on regulations related to the use of human subjects in research, and on the proper use and care of experimental animals. A seminar program and a series of enrichment lectures, presented by nationally renowned figures, expose students to state-of-the-art basic, clinical and translational research in NIDDK mission areas. The program leverages the strong institutional commitment and operational efficiencies of the larger (65-70 students) Summer Research Program, new initiatives to promote research training throughout the Medical School curriculum, and the exceptional, collaborative training environment of the UT-Houston Health Sciences Center, UT-M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and the Texas Medical Center as a whole. The new Program Director will be assisted in administering the Program by a Steering Committee, as well as External and Internal Advisory Committees. Students applying to the program will be selected on a competitive basis based on the merit of their research proposal developed in collaboration with a T35 Preceptor. Their progress in research training will be supported and tracked by a Career Development Committee that will report to and advise the Program Director and Steering Committee. Students can train in numerous departments at the Medical School, School of Public Health, and School of Dentistry of the UT-Houston Health Science Center, as well as in NIDDK-supported laboratories of UT-M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. In keeping with the uniform recruitment and retention efforts of UT-Houston, a continuing major objective is to recruit and develop students from underrepresented groups. Graduates of our T35 training program will be well-equipped to build upon their research experience through continuation of their research projects or new projects at other times during the four years of medical school. The Program has historically received outstanding faculty and administrative support and has become a traditional and integral part of the UTHealth research enterprise.
Diabetes mellitus and diseases of the kidney, gastrointestinal tract, and liver pose major, and growing public health burdens. The proposed short-term research training of medical students in these NIDDK mission areas under the mentorship of established investigators is designed to provide a transformative experience that will stimulate the students to enter a career investigating these problems. In so doing, a new cadre of physicians equipped to make fundamental and translational research discoveries in NIDDK mission areas will be developed.
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