This is a request for renewal of support for the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine?s (UPSOM) training program in Autoimmunity and Immunopathology (AI/IP), which currently funds 4 predoctoral and 4 postdoc- toral trainees. AI/IP is a central basic and applied research area that is bringing the insights of basic immu- nology to patients in the form of biological and mechanism-based therapies. Our AI/IP training program is thus very clearly delineated from other (successful) training programs in immunology-related areas, such as in infectious disease or transplantation, at Pitt. We have had success: while faithfully implementing our mentor- ing plan, we have trained or are training 22 pre-doctoral students with 20 different mentors. Thirteen pre- doctoral students have completed their PhD and two completed their MD/PhD degrees. These students have published an average of 5.8 papers each, with an average of 2.5 first author papers. Three of our pre-doctoral fellows are URM. Most are continuing in research-intensive careers, either as postdocs or in industry. We have also trained or are training 21 post-doctoral fellows with 19 different mentors, including 15 PhDs, 3 MDs and 3 MD/PhDs. Three of our post-doctoral fellows are URM. Our postdoctoral trainees have had success in obtaining further funding in the form of Foundation fellowships and K awards. We have implemented a new course, Autoimmunity and Immunopathology, along with our ?Trainee Day? activities that provide bidirectional feedback. We now propose to build meaningfully on what is now a proven and important training program. We highlight two major enhancements: 1) Establishment of a new graduate program. The Program in Micro- biology and Immunology (PMI) was created in 2017 to enhance focused Immunology and Microbiology edu- cation and to strengthen the links between these related areas. The establishment of PMI has greatly in- creased the quality and diversity of our applicant pool, while adding about 6 additional students/year. In addi- tion, due to investment and recruitment our Immunology faculty has expanded, and our training faculty has increased to 37 from 28. We have had increased high-quality competition for our predoctoral slots and are thus requesting an additional pre-doctoral slot for this cycle; 2) Establishment of the Center for Systems Im- munology. This Center has already recruited 3 new faculty including its director Dr. Harinder Singh, and will provide cutting edge research and training in this key emerging field. Our program flourishes within a support- ive and rich environment. UPSOM cares deeply about training and has implemented a series of effective programs to ensure outstanding training at the student and postdoc levels. The pool of applicants is also outstanding, given our successful PMI and MSTP programs, our highly sought-after clinical fellowships, and the attractiveness of our mentor pool for fellows applying directly. We are excited to execute our training plan for the upcoming cycle, and to capitalize on the significant improvements that we have made and have planned both for training opportunities as well as in terms of faculty. We feel that the prospects are exceptional.
Autoimmunity and Immunopathology are very important basic and applied research areas that are leading the way in bringing the insights of basic immunology to the patient in the form of biological and mechanism-based therapies. Our AI/IP training program seeks to train the spectrum of basic to applied and predoctoral to postdoctoral clinical fellow young scientists to carry out the next generation of cutting edge research. The dynamic environment of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is ideally suited to do so.
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