The next generation of immunologists and microbiologists need to understand the complex challenges that infectious disease researchers in the 21st century will face, including the emergence of new infectious diseases, increase in multi-drug resistant strains of bacteria and viruses and escalation of global public health problems that cross geographical boundaries. To foster inter-departmental participation in graduate education, the current PhD programs have been reorganized into a Multidisciplinary PhD Program in Biomedical Science composed of three interdisciplinary tracks, which emphasize areas of research strength and funding on the NJMS campus. Pertinent to the current application is Track 3 titled Infection, Immunity and Inflammation (I3). The objective of this training grant is to train a cadre of pre-doctoral students in a unique Integrated Education Program, where they will receive a sound training in cutting-edge laboratory-based research (Immunology, Inflammation, Immunity and Molecular Microbiology) that is integrated with clinical and translational science. New Jersey Medical School (NJMS) together with the Graduate School of Biomedical Science (GSBS) is in a unique position to establish such an integrated program since the School has a strong history of infectious disease research and clinical care, and an excellent record of mentored training in Microbiology, Immunology and Immunity. The Basic and Clinical infectious Disease Faculty has strong research funding and access to outstanding basic research and clinical facilities. Following the merger in 2013 of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and the former University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Rutgers Biomedical Health Sciences was created. The new RBHS chancellor has made significant commitment to infectious disease research. Faculty on the training grant have recently received there large multi-million dollar grants-TBRU, CETR and ICIDR. Batish, one of our graduate students received a National Institutes of Health Director's Early Independence Award. Velaquez, a student from the first year of the I3 track is ready to graduate with two published papers and two manuscripts in preparation and was awarded two very competitive research fellowships during her thesis work. This proves that our Faculty mentors and students are capable of high- level achievements. NJMS is committed to education of under-represented minorities and has established the Hispanic Center of Excellence. The school has committed substantial resources to the program, including 10% of the PI's base salary. In sum, the goals of the grant are-i) to recruit pre-doctoral trainees committed to careers in infectious diseases; ii) to provide a strong training in basic science research related to molecular microbiology, immunology, inflammation and immunity; iii) to enhance basic research training with exposure to clinical and translation infectious diseases through specifically designed courses; iv) to enhance interaction of basic and clinical faculty to enrich the education experience of the trainee. Together, the integrated program will enable trainees to come up with creative solutions to combat the war against infectious diseases.

Public Health Relevance

The overall goal of the Integrated Program in Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, is to train pre-doctoral students in interdisciplinary infectious disease research that combines strong training in basic research in microbiology, immunology and immunity with a unique experience in clinical and translational aspects of infectious disease research. The trainees participating in this training program will be well prepared to tackle the scientific challenges in infectious disease research and come up with novel solutions to the problems.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Institutional National Research Service Award (T32)
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Microbiology and Infectious Diseases B Subcommittee (MID)
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Coomes, Stephanie
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Rutgers University
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Maldonado, Samuel; Fitzgerald-Bocarsly, Patricia (2017) Antifungal Activity of Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cells and the Impact of Chronic HIV Infection. Front Immunol 8:1705
Espinosa, Vanessa; Dutta, Orchi; McElrath, Constance et al. (2017) Type III interferon is a critical regulator of innate antifungal immunity. Sci Immunol 2: