Existing and newly emerging viruses present a significant threat to human health. As such there is an ongoing need for well-trained scientists who can help meet the scientific and public health challenges posed by viral infections. To address this need, this renewal application for the UNC predoctoral Virology Training Program, which has a long track record of success in training young virologists, requests support for 6 training slots per year. The UNC Virology Training Program consists of 22 faculty members whose research focuses on a diverse set of viruses. Together the UNC virology faculty provide cutting edge virology training in viral pathogenesis, virus-host interactions, model systems, complex trait genetics of virus susceptibility, vaccine development, carcinogenic mechanisms, gene therapy vector development, as well as exciting opportunities for translational research on a number of important human pathogens. Our Program provides our students with laboratory-based training in state of the art virology techniques coupled with training that develops critical thinking skills and effective scientific communication. Our goal is to develop our trainees into well-rounded scientists that are well positioned to successfully pursue scientific careers in virology related research. To achieve these goals, our students receive one to two years of support from the Training Grant during years 3-5 of their training. Our students take part in three one semester courses covering molecular virology, viral pathogenesis, and a special topics course focused on student review of the virology literature and student presentations. Students routinely present their research at multiple in house seminar series, and also present their work at local, national, and international scientific meetings. We provide students with career development advice in the form of one on one meetings with the Program Directors, as well as career fairs and internship programs sponsored in partnership with the UNC Office of Graduate Education. In this renewal, we have expanded our student?s training in Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR), and provide new training in how to enhance Reproducibility and Rigor in virology related research. Our program has an outstanding track record of successfully training virologists, and our trainees routinely go on to perform postdoctoral training in top notch research laboratories and have long term success in academic, industry, and government research positions. The ongoing support for the UNC Virology Training Program will allow us to continue to train the next generation of outstanding virology researchers.

Public Health Relevance

Viruses represent a major ongoing threat to human health. Existing pathogens, including HIV, herpes viruses, influenza virus, and arboviruses, cause significant morbidity and mortality, while newly emerging and re-emerging viruses, such as Ebola virus and Zika virus pose new threats to human health. Therefore, it will be important to train the next generation of scientists to be able to study these viruses and develop vaccines, therapies and control strategies that will provide protection against these significant pathogens.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Institutional National Research Service Award (T32)
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Microbiology and Infectious Diseases B Subcommittee (MID)
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Coomes, Stephanie
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University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Schools of Medicine
Chapel Hill
United States
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