Immunology is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as ?The science that deals with the immune system, including cell-mediated and humoral aspects of immunity and immune responses?. This includes both understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms that mediate and regulate immune responses, as well as applications of this understanding to the development of immune-based approaches to improved diagnosis, prevention, and therapy of disease. The goal of the University of Iowa Predoctoral Training Program in Immunology is to develop the capabilities of a diverse group of students to become successful scientists in a spectrum of independent careers contributing to progress in immunology, encompassing both increased understanding and more effective application of immune responses. This is a competitive renewal application for years 20-25 of a training program supporting students pursuing doctoral studies in basic and translational immunology at The University of Iowa. 25 training faculty members and 7 resource faculty provide intensive laboratory research training and effective, relevant classroom instruction leading to the Ph.D. or the combined M.D. Ph.D. degree in Immunology. The diversity of faculty research expertise within the discipline of immunology is a strength of the training opportunities provided, and is complemented by a network of frequent and successful collaborations in funding, publication, and student training. Since its initial funding, this Immunology Training Program award has supported 79 predoctoral trainees, of whom 94% completed their graduate degrees. All these former trainees remain in scientific careers today, and those from the initial period are now in tenured faculty and leadership positions in industry and education. Although many of our trainees have roots in the Midwest, our graduates go on to pursue successful careers throughout the US. Our trainees are productive in publishing their doctoral research results, and typically complete their doctorates within 5 years of entry to graduate work. In the most recent funding period, we introduced new administrative leadership to the graduate program, new coursework and initiatives in career development and recruitment, and new training faculty. Our proportion of minority trainees increased from 15% to 24%, and of female training faculty from <10% to 20% (including a new female URM faculty member). We continue to revise and optimize our Program to best meet the needs of trainee scientific careers and the diverse scientific workforce of the future. This award fills a critical need to support our continuing efforts in training predoctoral students from diverse backgrounds for independent careers as immunologists, and also to providing geographic diversity in graduate training in immunology.
(Relevance to Public Health) The immune system provides humans with critically important protective responses to infectious pathogens such as viruses and bacteria, as well as to tumor cells; but inappropriate immune responses can also cause inflammation and autoimmune diseases. Studies that advance understanding of immune responses, and how to apply this knowledge to preventing and treating human diseases have great potential to reduce the disease burden and promote the health of the nation. The Predoctoral Training Program in Immunology is designed to provide rigorous training in a supportive environment for graduate students to pursue multiple approaches to understanding the mechanisms underlying immune responses, and apply this knowledge to clinical treatments.
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