Our goal is to train infectious disease MD or MD/PhD postdoctoral fellows at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in translational research in AIDS and chronic viral pathogenesis. With an increasing global disease burden of viral diseases (such as HIV-1 and viral hepatitis C) and increasing basic scientific research, a key bottleneck for developing successful therapies and vaccines is translational research. There is therefore a pressing need for qualified physician-scientist researchers who can work from bench to bedside. Given the overall strength of UCLA in translational/basic HIV-1 research and basic virology research, we propose a training program that is predominately focused on HIV-1, with opportunities for fellows to pursue translational pathogenesis studies on other viruses as well. We have assembled a highly selected group of faculty members to serve as potential mentors, spanning several UCLA departments. Trainees will be encouraged to take full advantage of the numerous collaborations between participating basic science and clinical faculty in order to create unique translational research opportunities. Research mentors have active IRB protocols to recruit subjects for the study of HIV and HCV pathogenesis, are actively involved with human trials for novel antiviral therapeutics, and are studying virtually all aspects of HIV pathogenesis. Many faculty mentors are also studying fundamental aspects of HCV replication and persistence. Our program will support MD trainees (leading to a PhD) or MD/PhD trainees (seeking formal postdoctoral training) as part of their Infectious Diseases subspecialty training. We will be seeking one well-qualified trainee each year with maximum 3 trainees in the program at any time. Our program is structured to provide trainees with significant protected research time so that they may develop independent research interests and secure independent funding. The ultimate goal of this training program is for all trainees to ultimately succeed as independent investigators.
This training grant will support the development of new physician-scientists, and as a result of our training program there will be an increase in the number of well-qualified individuals studying AIDS and chronic viral pathogenesis. This addition to the scientific workforce will increase the tempo of discovery of new approaches to combat AIDS and other chronic viral infections such as Hepatitis C.
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