This application seeks continuation, from years 30 to 35, of a long-standing training program centered on the biology of aging. Entitled Career Training in the Biology of Aging, the objectives of our training program are to provide graduate students and post-doctoral fellows with a comprehensive, in-depth research training in aging biology, which emphasizes logical and conceptual thinking, together with career-oriented mentoring designed to promote success in a diverse professional landscape. We are requesting 6 pre-doctoral and 3 post-doctoral training positions. Aging biology has a long and proud history at the University of Michigan (UM), which is consistently ranked as one of the top Universities in the world with institutional support for aging research that is at an elite level. The Geriatrics Center in particular, which is recognized internationally for clinical, educational, and research programs, provides an outstanding setting for our Training Program. The program benefits from a Nathan Shock Center of Excellence in the Biology of Aging, a Claude Pepper Older Americans Independence Center, the Ann Arbor VA GRECC (Geriatrics Research, Education, and Clinical Center), and the soon to be funded Glenn Center Laboratories for the Biology of Aging. Our 20 preceptors represent a diverse, highly-interactive, well-funded, and creative group that spans 17 different department and four schools at UM. The popularity and success of our program is growing, as evidenced by (i) the spread of aging tracks and subject matter into cognate graduate programs, (ii) the ability of us to (every year) appoint highly-qualified trainees to each of our slots, (iii) our ability to attract young, promising faculty members to our program and aging research in general, and (iv) an increasing national recognition through individual faculty awards (e.g., Ellison Medical Foundation Junior and Senior scholars) and institutional support (e.g., the Glenn Laboratories designation). Our program has long emphasized hypothesis-based laboratory training through creative and impactful research, and over the past funding cycle we have proactively enriched these experiences with initiatives that ensure preparation for diverse career opportunities and that enhance synergy between the pre- and post-doctoral trainees. While continuing our successful Biogerontology Research Seminars, Biology of Aging Journal Clubs, and annual Research Symposium, we have implemented new career-oriented initiatives, such as town-hall style trainee meetings with PhD scholars who have succeeded in career paths distinct from traditional academics, including industry as well as entrepreneurship. These programmatic additions complement new efforts in mentorship including Certificate Programs that provide enhanced training in areas such as teaching, public policy, and translational education; integrated Individual Development Plans; mentorship committees for our post-doctoral trainees and junior faculty; extensive initial and refresher training in the responsible conduct of research; and focused efforts to recruit and retain a diverse trainee population.
A comprehensive training program in the biology of aging will prepare trainees for careers at the forefront of academics, industry, and biotechnology, thereby promoting the discovery of a deeper biological understanding of the aging process and nurturing a passion to apply their experience to alleviate the cost and suffering associated with age-related disease.
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