Viral infection and disease continue to be a major global health issue and thus it is critical that we support the development of well-trained scientists who are poised to lead studies of viral spread and pathogenesis. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Fred Hutch) and University of Washington (UW) have a rich history of research in viral pathogenesis and over the past five years, we have also greatly expanded our expertise in viral evolution research. Ten years ago, we created a Viral Pathogenesis Training Program to provide an umbrella program for trainees pursuing research in viral pathogenesis in laboratories at Fred Hutch and UW. In recognition of the importance of studying the evolution of viruses to better understand and anticipate viral epidemics, we propose here to expand the focus of our program to include viral evolution and computational studies of viruses ? the Viral Pathogenesis and Evolution Training Program (VPETP). Because predoctoral students pursing studies of viral pathogenesis and evolution are dispersed among a variety of graduate programs and laboratories at Fred Hutch and UW, this program is essential to create a cohesive and interactive training program that brings together all of these students to provide enhanced opportunities beyond those provided by their specific graduate program. The labs participating in this training program study a diverse array of viral infections, including viruses that are major global threats such as DENV, Ebola, HIV, Influenza, and Zika as well as oncogenic (HCV, KHSV, HPV, MCPyV) and opportunistic (HSV, CMV, AdV) pathogens. The diversity in the viruses studied among participating labs will add breadth to the program, while maintaining an overarching focus on virus-induced diseases among all the participating labs. Trainees for the VPETP will be drawn from several existing graduate programs that have training in virology as one area of emphasis. The inclusion of laboratories using computational approaches to the study of viruses will provide opportunities for our students to learn computational skills that are critical for the next generation of scientists. Features of this training program will include common didactic training as well as opportunities for presentations and other interactions among students and faculty. This common focus will create an umbrella for the students of this training grant that is distinct from existing departmental or program structures. The Viral Pathogenesis and Evolution Training Grant is the only training grant in Seattle that is focused on virus research in general or viral pathogenesis and evolution in particular.

Public Health Relevance

The Viral Pathogenesis and Evolution Training Program (VPETP) will train the next generation of researchers so that they are poised to lead efforts to understand how viruses spread and cause disease. This program will bring together the many outstanding groups across the Seattle area under one training umbrella and will facilitate both training and interaction.

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 Washington
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