This application requests five additional years for the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Training Grant in Gastroenterology to continue to fulfill its goal of preparing pre- and post-doctoral fellows for careers as independent investigators in academia, conducting cutting-edge basic and/or translational gastrointestinal (GI) disease-related research. The proposed training is based on two principles: (i) Advancements in diagnosis and treatment of digestive disorders are propelled by basic research discoveries and their timely translation to the bed side; (ii) Big data (RNA seq, 'omics') has provided a wealth of data to enable such translation from model organism research to patients and requires rigorous training in computational tools, systems biology and biostatistics. Based on these principles, the UCSD GI T32 program has designed a comprehensive, and yet individualized training curriculum to (a) achieve research excellence in advanced systems and approaches, (b) provide foundation knowledge, keep pace with advancements and develop translational insights, and (c) foster a collaborative community through a vibrant interdisciplinary training. With these activities, the GI T32 program aims to accelerate the pace of discovery and to advance the delivery of precision management in digestive disorders, which is directly aligned to NIDDK's goals of lessening the burden of these ailments. This Training Program leverages the continuing expansion of biomedical research at UCSD School of Medicine and its collaborating institutions to identify faculty mentors with GI-relevant research expertise, productive research programs, principled research conduct and outstanding training history from the Departments of Medicine, Family Medicine, Cellular & Molecular Medicine, Pediatrics, Pathology, Pharmacology, Surgery, and Pharmaceutical Sciences. The Training Program exposes the trainees as well as the faculty to the diversity of systems, approaches and technologies that are employed to investigate the complex biology and translational aspects of a range of GI disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease, functional GI disorders and motility, infectious diseases of the gut, gut microbiome, pancreatic and hepatobiliary disorders, nutrition and obesity, and malignancies of the digestive tract. In the past decade, pre-doc and post-doc trainees of this program have entered productive research careers with a success rate of 100% and ~90%, respectively, as research scientists and faculty. The UCSD GI T32 program Executive Committee, consisting of the Program Director, Associate Director, and an Internal Advisory Committee that selects and evaluates trainees and faculty as well as monitors progress within the Program. The UCSD GI T32 External Advisory Committee reviews program statistics and metrics to identify the strengths and weaknesses of training activities, trainees and faculty. With these activities and support from the UCSD School of Medicine, this program will continue to function as a nexus for GI-focused basic and translational research and training at UCSD.
Advancements in basic, translational and clinical research on disorders of the digestive tract have culminated in the dawn of precision medicine that aims to deliver big-data-informed, pathway-specific targeted diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic strategies with enhanced accuracy, efficacy and reduced toxicity. However, critical gaps in the basic knowledge of biology of digestive diseases have limited the success of precision medicine to a subset of ailments and patients. To fill the gaps in basic knowledge and to accelerate the pace of discovery, this long-standing UCSD GI T32 program strives to train and develop outstanding academic physicians in the diversity of systems, approaches and technologies that must be employed to investigate the complex biology of GI disorders, to advance the theory and practice of patient care in digestive and liver diseases, and to usher the next wave of advancements in personalized and precision medicine.
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