With this renewal application we request continued support for six pre-doctoral student training slots in support of our Virology Training Program. This renewal will take us into our third decade of continuous support for this training program. Our world-class group of 23 virology mentors provide training opportunities in viral pathogenesis, virus-host interactions, model systems, vaccine development, carcinogenic mechanisms, gene therapy vectors, and rich opportunities for translational research working with a number of important human pathogens. Our goal is to provide laboratory-based training coupled with the development of critical thinking and communication skills to produce outstanding young researchers in virology. Classroom instruction typically consists of three one-semester courses that cover molecular virology, viral pathogenesis, and a special topics course based on student presentations. Students receive additional training in ethics, career development, and the peer review process. A significant fraction of our trainees become proficient in working under BSL3 containment conditions. Our trainees are recruited nationally into an open admissions program where they receive institutional support for the first academic year. Students receive 1-2 years of support from the training grant typically during years 3-5. Trainees meet monthly with the Program Director and Associate Director, and present their research both at national meetings and at our yearly Virology Colloquium. Our trainees are productive, undertake challenging postdoctoral research training, and have gone on to compete for academic faculty position, positions in the pharmaceutical industry and in small biotech companies, and in government. Thus we prepare our students for the entire range of professional opportunities that are available to biomedical scientists.
Viruses represent a major threat to human health. This has been true since the first humans and will continue to be true for the foreseeable future. The threat changes as viruses evolve and human behavior changes to create new transmission routes. Thus there is an ongoing need to train the next generation of scientists to be able to study the viruses that are the cause of morbidity and mortality today, and the new viruses of the future that we can confidently predict will appear.
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