This is a new application from Columbia University that requests funding for a postdoctoral training program in digestive and liver diseases. This program is designed to train M.D. investigators to become independent basic, clinical and translational researchers. The growing need for translational researchers in the U.S., and their importance to the nation's health, has been recently highlighted in the report by the National Commission on Digestive Diseases. Our training program is primarily based within the Division of Digestive and Liver Diseases at Columbia University but encompasses a highly collaborative and interactive faculty (14 senior, 7 junior) from many departments. Trainees, recruited through a rigorous process, primarily from our gastroenterology fellowship program, will be assigned to one of three tracks: (1) basic Gl research;(2) basic liver research;or (3) clinical epidemiology research. The trainees are assigned to a mentor with a specific research project but also complete a rigorous program of didactic instruction that includes cross training and multidisciplinary education. Regardless of the research focus, all trainees will enroll in didactic programs to strengthen their knowledge of biostatistics and clinical trials and obtain a background in basic laboratory investigation. Although created as a new T32 program, this application is designed to solidify and formalize the highly successful research training program that has already been put in place at Columbia University. The gastroenterology fellowship program at Columbia recruits only research-oriented Gl fellows and is currently training, and has trained, fellows in both basic and clinical tracks. Dr. Timothy C. Wang, PI and Director of this Training program, has been actively engaged as a mentor of young basic and clinical scientists for many years. An Executive Training Program Advisory Committee and an External Advisory Committee have been created. The program is tightly integrated with the newly award NIH CTSA and the MS/POR training program. A program to enhance recruitment of underrepresented ethnic groups and women is in place.
Many more researchers are needed in the field of digestive and liver diseases to advance our knowledge of disease pathogenesis, prevention and treatment of these disorders. Approximately 60 to 70 million Americans are affected each year at by digestive diseases at a cost >$86 billion in direct costs. Columbia University is strongly position to become a leading center in training future researchers in this field.
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