The rapidly increasing number of antibacterial-resistant pathogens and the emergence of new infectious threats underscore the desperate need for new antimicrobial therapeutics at a time when the pharmaceutical industry has largely abandoned this area of research and development. Academic research institutions have begun to meet this need, but success will require scientists who are trained to apply the techniques of chemical biology to the study of microbial pathogenesis. Herein, we propose to capitalize on Vanderbilt University's strengths in chemical biology and microbiology to establish a Chemical Biology of Infectious Diseases Training Program (CBIDTP) aimed at preparing scientists for the challenges of antimicrobial target identification and drug discovery. Twenty faculty preceptors from five departments in the School of Medicine (Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology, Biochemistry, and Pediatrics) and the College of Arts and Sciences (Chemistry and Biological Sciences) will serve as mentors for the Program. Three predoctoral students will be selected each year to receive two years of support during their second and third year of study in the five-year program. Highlights of the training program include formal coursework in both microbial pathogenesis and chemical biology, elective courses for specialized training, a mini-sabbatical research opportunity in a collaborator's laboratory, research and professional development workshops, an interactive seminar series in chemical biology, an annual research symposium in chemical biology, participation in the infectious disease case conference and antibiotic stewardship program, an innovative internship experience at a major pharmaceutical company, and an in-depth laboratory research experience. Research projects will emphasize a multi-disciplinary approach that applies chemical biology to the study of microbiology, and students will be advised by at least two CBID preceptors. As a result, students will be well-grounded in a core discipline and sufficiently well-trained in complementary fields to allow them to work effectively in an interdisciplinary environment.
Infectious diseases remain the second leading cause of death worldwide, and the rapid emergence of new antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria threatens to markedly increase the public health impact of these illnesses. To combat this threat requires new drugs with novel mechanisms of action, a goal that can best be achieved by the application of chemical biology to the study of microbiology. This proposal will combine the resources of the Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology and its Program in Microbial Pathogenesis to train young scientists who will be able to bridge the gap between these disciplines, preparing them to discover the next generation of infectious disease therapeutics.
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