An unprecedented expansion of knowledge in modern immunology has occurred in the relatively young field of innate immunity. The ?Signaling Pathways in Innate Immunity? (SPII) training grant (TG) program for pre- and post-doctoral fellows is only in its 5th year of support and is thriving. The University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) has significant research and training strengths in this area. The Training Grant Faculty (TGF) for this unique, highly focused program are highly interactive and primarily drawn from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, with affiliations in interdisciplinary centers and institutes including the Center for Vaccine Development, Institute for Genome Sciences, Center for Vascular and Inflammatory Diseases, Greenebaum Cancer Center, and the Institute of Human Virology. The 28 TGF have a longstanding history of collaboration on grants and publications, and are well funded PIs of grants totaling ~$13.1 million in annual direct costs. Predoctoral trainees will be selected primarily from the interdepartmental Graduate Program in Life Sciences (GPILS) Programs in Molecular Microbiology & Immunology (MMI), a well-established Ph.D. Program that includes a rigorous core curriculum, program-specific courses, elective courses, journal clubs, seminars, annual symposia, and graduate research presentation days. Additional academic work will be combined with demanding laboratory training through dissertation research under the direction of the TGF whose documented expertise will provide inter- and multidisciplinary training opportunities. Predoctoral students are selected from an increasingly qualified applicant pool, as well as from the UMSOM M.D./Ph.D. Program. Similarly, our TG-eligible postdoctoral trainees are increasingly gravitating to laboratories with expertise in innate immune signaling where they receive dedicated mentoring, using state-of-the art resources. Both pre- and postdoctoral trainees have additional didactic and non-didactic requirements, including training in the responsible conduct of research, professional development, and a highly structured mentoring program. Recruitment of trainees from underrepresented minorities is given significant priority through programs aimed at facilitating success in our program, and is reflected in the diversity of our trainees: 13 of 20 training slots (65%) went to women and 25% to underrepresented/disabled individuals. Our TG Program is guided by a highly qualified Advisory Board including the Training Program Director, two Co-Directors, and individuals with significant TG experience. Personal responsibility, including an insistence on scientific rigor and reproducibility, and participation in scientific outreach programs, are strongly encouraged by our TGF using innovative new training components. Our trainees are already building excellent records of publications and awards, and several have already accepted research positions or have left for additional training, providing an early indication that our trainees will continue to be exceptionally well prepared for future careers in academia, government, and industry that will, ultimately, contribute to the nation?s health in significant ways.
Lay Description of Work: Future advancements in our ability to fight infection, inflammatory diseases like arthritis, and cancer depends on advanced training of scientists in the relatively new field of ?innate immunity.? This Training Grant, Signaling Pathways in Innate Immunity (SPII), provides pre-doctoral and post-doctoral students with the the analytical skills required to ?connect the dots? and unravel complex molecular interactions that underlie our earliest immune responses to microbes and other noxious substances. Towards this goal, talented SPII trainees receive exceptional academic support, research guidance, and mentoring from our dedicated faculty, as evidenced by the scientific successes of SPII trainees in its first award period.
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