This application proposes the renewal of a post-doctoral training program in pediatric infectious diseases and immunology (PIDI-TP), based in the Divisions of Pediatric Infectious Diseases (ID) and Rheumatology at Washington University School of Medicine and St. Louis Children?s Hospital. The long-term objective is to train academic physician-scientists to carry out impactful research in pediatric infectious disease pathogenesis and host response. WUSM offers an outstanding training environment for physician-scientists, with nationally recognized hospitals conjoined with one of the nation?s premier biomedical research facilities. Many Washington University faculty members, both within and outside the Department of Pediatrics, are leading investigators in infectious diseases and human immunology. PIDI-TP will also take advantage of extensive WUSM facilities for genome sequencing and microbial genomics, as well as 100 other Research Cores. Our 35 PIDI-TP mentors, drawn from the Departments of Pediatrics, Medicine, Pathology/Immunology, and Molecular Microbiology, represent highly successful investigators with externally funded research programs and experience in mentoring physician- scientists. The PIDI-TP Program Director (PD) will be David Hunstad, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Chief of the Division of Pediatric ID. The co-PD will be Tony French, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Chief of the Division of Pediatric Rheumatology. These two PDs also direct the Pediatric Physician-Scientist Training Program (PSTP) at WUSM. Program activities and outcomes, trainee selection, and trainee progress will be overseen by an Executive Committee consisting of the two PDs and four other tenured investigators at WUSM who are heavily involved in physician-scientist training, and advised by external faculty who are nationally recognized experts in pediatric ID or immunology. Each trainee will be advised by an individualized Scholarship Oversight Committee (SOC), whose findings will be reviewed by the PDs and Executive Committee. The program will support two postdoctoral (MD or MD/PhD) trainees per year, to be recruited from pediatric fellowship programs in Infectious Diseases, Rheumatology, and Allergy/Immunology, as well as Neonatology, Pulmonary Medicine, Nephrology, and Critical Care, drawing in particular on MD/PhD trainees in our robust PSTP pipeline. Beyond the mentored research experience, educational and career development activities for trainees are organized in three arenas: Pathogens, Host, and Omics. A Core Curriculum for all participants will provide training in study design, biostatistics, human subjects research, animal use and care, scientific writing, preparation of grants, and genomics. Trainees will also receive extensive ongoing mentoring for career planning and to prepare for subspecialty Board examinations. Career development will be monitored by research mentors, the PDs, the Executive Committee, and the SOCs. Program evaluation will rely on short-term and long-term metrics as well as input from current and past trainees. Efforts are outlined to enhance diversity among trainees and mentors.
This postdoctoral training program in pediatric infectious diseases and immunology will train academic physician- scientists to perform research in infectious diseases and immunity of children. Infectious diseases account for extensive morbidity and mortality throughout the world, and trained researchers are needed who can apply powerful new scientific methods to combat these diseases. Our ability to understand the biology of genetically determined immune deficiency and autoimmune disease is also expanding rapidly.
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