Funds are requested for competitive renewal of a pre-doctoral Emerging and Tropical Infectious Diseases Training Program to support four trainees and three medical students each year. Training is provided by 16 Program faculty and 19 adjunct faculty. Emerging and tropical infections diseases encompass the broad-based multidisciplinary sciences of microbiology, pathology, immunology, molecular biology, epidemiology, entomology, vertebrate zoology, biochemistry and cell biology. The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston has made a major commitment to emerging and tropical diseases with the establishment of a Center for Tropical Diseases (CTD) that is a designated WHO Collaborating Center for Tropical Diseases. This multidisciplinary Center involves components of the medical and graduate schools (pathology, microbiology and immunology, internal medicine, pediatrics, preventive medicine and community health, and human biological chemistry and genetics). These disciplines provide an extensive resource for access of the trainees of this program to a very attractive array of research areas highly relevant to emerging and tropical infectious diseases. In addition, the faculty of the CTD has current federal grant support for research on emerging infections and tropical diseases in the United States, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela and parts of Central America and Africa. Thus the trainees will have opportunities to undertake a variety of potential research topics from laboratory-based studies at UTMB to field studies in the tropics. In this pre-doctoral program, formal course work is completed in the first two years affording the trainee with a comprehensive background in infectious disease concepts; laboratory rotations familiarize the students with state-of-the-art technology and facilities, and orient them to potential future mentors. The students select mentors during the first and early part of the second year and prepare and defend a research dissertation topic in consultation with a research committee. The research is then conducted, culminating in the dissertation and defense. The pre-doctoral trainees have access to state-of-the-art facilities at UTMB including arthropod containment level (ACL) -2, ACL-3, BSL-3, animal BSL-3 and BSL-4 ,and have opportunities to participate in research in the overseas tropics. They participate in multiple research seminar series, including Frontiers of Infectious Disease and Tropical Medicine, and they present their own research results in the above and other Research-in-Progress seminar series. In addition, to supporting pre-doctoral trainees, we are requesting support for three medical students to undertake short-term overseas research with Program Faculty at UTMB to encourage medical students to undertake a career as physician-scientists in the area of emerging and tropical infectious diseases. As with many of the former trainees of the faculty of the CTD, graduates will embark on post-doctoral fellowships, and assume positions of responsibility at medical and graduate schools, colleges and as staff of research institutes and industry. ? ? PARTICIPATING FACULTY: The 35 training faculty include 24 professors, 8 associate professors, and 3 assistant professors. Five of the training faculty are women. All have primary appointments at the University of Texas Medical Branch. The majority of the faculty have currently active funding on which they are the Principal Investigator. The faculty work on numerous bacterial and viral pathogens, as well as parasitic organisms. Their primary areas of research include: pathogenesis, molecular epidemiology, virology, and parisitology, host-parasite interactions, vector biology, immunology, vaccine development, diagnostics, structural biology, and bioinformatics. There is good evidence of collaboration among the faculty, including joint publications. All of the program faculty have experience as mentors to predoctoral students. ? ? FELLOWS: This training program will support four predoctoral trainees and three medical student trainees for each of five years. Predoctoral students are accepted to the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and enrolled into the Basic Biomedical Sciences Curriculum (BBSC). Predoctoral trainees for the Emerging and Tropical Infectious Disease Training Program are recruited from within BBSC. After one year of graduate coursework in foundation courses and laboratory rotations, predoctoral students apply to the Emerging and Tropical Diseases program. Training grant support will be provided for two years and, if necessary, for a third year. Predoctoral M.D./Ph.D. students are expected to take an average of seven years to complete the combined training program. ? ? Medical students from UTMB are recruited using email to poll their interest. In late January, a presentation is given to interested students. Applicants are evaluated based on a written proposal, interview, and choice of mentor and field site. The applicant pool has had four candidates ? per year for the three training slots. ? ? The Emerging and Tropical Infectious Diseases Training Grant has provided support for 12 predoctoral ? trainees. Two trainees left before completing the training program. Four trainees completed the training ? program and are continuing their career development as postdoctoral fellows or medical students. ? Currently there are six predoctoral students supported by the training grant. Two of the current ? predoctoral trainees are from underrepresented minority groups. The training grant has also provided funding for 16 medical students to do research training. ? ? RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT: The resources available to the training faculty are considerable. These include hospitals and clinics on the UTMB campus and facilities of the World Health Organization Center for Tropical Diseases. Other excellent facilities include the Sealy Center for Vaccine Development, the Center for Biodefense, the Infectious Diseases and Toxicology Optical Imaging Core, and the Emerging Viral Diseases Unit. There are also core facilities for electron microscopy, X-ray crystallography, development of transgenic animal models, bioinformatics, studies in membrane and molecular structure, and BSL-3 and BSL-4 studies. Extramural support is provided by NIH, as well as by other government and private sources. The James McLaughlin Fellowship Fund for Infection and Immunity supplements the NIH predoctoral stipends so that trainees receive the UTMB graduate student level stipend. The research environment at UTMB is collaborative. ? ?

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Institutional National Research Service Award (T32)
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Study Section
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome Research Review Committee (AIDS)
Program Officer
Garges, Susan
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University of Texas Medical Br Galveston
Schools of Medicine
United States
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