Our understanding of the impact and workings of the innate immune system has increased exponentially in the past 15 years. Innate immunity is now a complex discipline that encompasses a variety of topics ranging from innate immune receptor signaling to microbial pathogenesis to auto-immune and auto-inflammatory diseases. To effectively train students in such a cross-disciplinary field requires a cohesive and interactive faculty unit with diverse expertise. The 28 UMass Medical School faculties participating in Innate Immunity Training Program (IITP) represent just such a group. Their goal is to provide an outstanding training environment for predoctoral students committed to effectively and creatively expanding our understanding of innate immune mechanisms. This goal will be met by providing predoctoral trainees with: (1) a solid academic background in biochemistry/biophysics, molecular and cellular biology, immunology, and genetics through the UMMS core curriculum and IITP curricular components;(2) an in-depth understanding of rational experimental design as well as the subtleties of the innate immune system interactions through additional regularly scheduled journal clubs, seminar presentations by nationally/internationally recognized experts in the field, as well as by student and faculty IITP members;(3) an innovative, challenging and focused research experience using state of the art technologies;(4) opportunities to present research accomplishments at institutional, local, national and international forums;and (5) appropriate training in the ethical conduct of research. The diverse research interests of our faculty will provide trainees with a wide range of opportunities in both basic and translational research. Particular areas of faculty expertise include innate host defense mechanisms, pathogen evasion, pattern recognition receptor signaling and interactions (Toll-like receptors, NOD-like receptors, and beyond), complement cascades, inflammasome activation, innate-like lymphocyte subsets (B1 B-cells, iNKT cells), protein structure/function, autoimmunity, and vaccine development. We intend to support 10 predoctoral trainees (Ph.D and M.D./Ph.D. students) each year (5 trainees for 2 years each). Trainees will be selected based on their academic record and previous evidence of commitment and talent for basic research. Special efforts will be made to recruit a diverse group of trainees. Training grant funds will enable our group to increase the caliber of student recruits and provide an even more cohesive and rigorous innate immunity research community.
The Innate Immunity Training Program proposed here is designed to educate the next generation of biomedical researchers in cutting-edge, high quality science. Innate immunity is of critical importance to several common human diseases including septic shock, autoimmune diseases, and nearly all infectious diseases. Trainees will receive a comprehensive classroom-based foundation in innate immunity (and allied fields) upon which their laboratory research experience will build.
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