Washington University School of Medicine and the affiliated Barnes-Jewish Hospital have a 40-year tradition of excellence in musculoskeletal research, patient care, education and training. In 2011, the Washington University Metabolic Skeletal Disorders Training Program (T32) was established under the leadership of Dr. Roberto Civitelli, with the purpose of training the next generation of skeletal investigators and physician. In January 2012, T32 activities were integrated with those of the Core Center for Musculoskeletal Biology and Medicine (P30), directed by Dr. Linda Sandell, into a new Musculoskeletal Research Center (MRC), through a partnership between the Departments of Internal Medicine (Division of Bone and Mineral Diseases) and Orthopaedic Surgery, and support by the Dean of the Medical School. The MRC integrates the complementary aims of this T32 and the P30 into a unified structure that allows efficient utilization of the resources and synergism between the research and education missions of our Center. This T32, henceforth named Skeletal Disorders Training Program (SDTP), offers 3 pre- and 3 post-doctoral positions, and in the first 4 years of funding, a total of 10 trainees (4 graduate students and 6 post-doctora trainees) have entered the program. Of these, two post-doctoral trainees have obtained faculty appointments, one has been awarded a K99/R00 grant; another one, a Hispanic-American, obtained a F32 fellowship. Of the 4 pre- doctoral trainees, one has graduated and started post-doctoral training, and one is pursuing a combined M.D/Ph.D. degree. Together, they have published 28 peer-reviewed manuscripts and received numerous awards and recognitions. This SDTP offers research training in 5 thematic areas, reflecting the focus and common interests of the faculty participating in this training program: 1) Systemic and Local Regulation of the Skeleton; 2) Skeletal Immunology; 3) Tumor- Skeleton Interactions; 4) Genetics and Development of the Skeleton; 5) Skeletal Biomechanics and Repair. Mentors selected for this SDTP are drawn from 9 academic Departments at Washington University. The training consists of 5 components: 1) mentored research training; 2) curriculum coursework; 3) enrichment activities; 4) career development; 5) responsible conduct of research. The pre-doctoral training program is integrated with the PhD and MD/PhD programs administered by the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences (DBBS) and the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME). This T32 builds on strong interdepartmental and School-wide support, and leverages the MRC Cores and infrastructure and other institutional resources, such as the DBBS and BME Department (for trainee recruitment and coursework), and the Institute for Translational and Clinical Sciences (for additional cores, services and career development training). Specific additions introduced during the current funding cycle and innovations proposed going forward are, among others, inclusion of BME students to the pre- doctoral pool, expansion of the mentor pool to faculty with interest in cancer biology, broadening of the educational coursework and enrichment activities, and strengthening career development education. Training the next generation of physicians and scientists is paramount to the continuous growth of research on skeletal biology. Such research is necessary to understand the genetic and molecular bases of skeletal disorders and to devise new treatment strategies for diseases such as osteoporosis, inflammatory osteolysis, osteoarthritis, tendon failure, and bone metastasis, which afflict a large proportion of the elderly population.
Skeletal disorders, such as osteoporosis, inflammatory osteolysis, osteoarthritis, tendon failure, and bone metastasis, afflict a large proportion of the elderly population. This training program educates and forms the next generation of scientists and physicians committed to skeletal disorders, so that research in this area can be perpetuated, a better understanding of the causes of these diseases can be achieved, and the search for new treatment modalities can progress.
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