Within the U.S., the incidence of diabetes has risen to the extent that the disorder is now often referred to as a ?pandemic?. While most attention to this problem has been directed at type 2 diabetes, type 1 diabetes (T1D) represents part of this increase and carries with it higher levels of long-term morbidity and mortality. Disease management of those with T1D has, over the past decade, seen dramatic improvement; gains largely due to ?technologies? (e.g., continuous glucose monitors, insulin pumps, delivery devices). As such, there is both a continuing, if not urgent need for innovative therapeutics and technologies to deal with not only T1D care but in addition, methods that deliver the long held hope for a means to prevent/reverse the disease. This, in turn, forms the need to train a generation of future scientists that can contribute to the engineering of such devices while at the same time, have in-depth knowledge to link their research to address the prevention, reversal and treatment of the disease. With this, the overall objective of our proposed training program is to provide an experience directed at this need. Specifically, The University of Florida Interdisciplinary Training for Type 1 Diabetes and Biomedical Engineering Program will provide an interdisciplinary, integrated effort designed to develop predoctoral students (four positions requested) into graduates having skill sets and knowledge vital for attempts that bridge these two important disciplines. Pre-doctoral candidates may select co-mentors (one T1D and one Biomedical Engineering) from a diverse basic science, translational, and clinical faculty. Research interests of the training faculty include: 1) Immunology/Genetics (autoimmunity, genotype/phenotype, innate immunity); 2) Stem Cell Biology/Therapeutics (cell therapy, iPSC generation, cell scaffolds); and 3) Clinical/Translational Research (clinical trials, therapeutic development, improved disease management). Importantly, the Faculty has a strong track record of active collaboration. The infrastructure for clinical research will be enhanced by the university?s CTSI as well as Institutes and Centers directed by faculty members of this training program. Training, including curricula, is focused on disease-oriented research relevant to T1D and includes disease-related research in both animal models and humans. The training program is largely preceptorial, with more than 75% of the trainee?s time devoted to independent research activities and the rest spent in formal courses and conferences. The curriculum is tailored to trainees? individual needs. A concerted effort has also been extended to rigorous program evaluation, monitoring of trainee?s needs including career development, and recruitment of minorities. Trainees emanating from mentors laboratories over the past decades have been highly successful in terms of research publications and their subsequent career development. In sum, we believe candidates graduating from this program will contribute to a vital societal need directed at impacting the lives of those with T1D.
Recent advances, largely technology-based, have lead to dramatic improvements in disease management for those living with type 1 diabetes. However, despite an obvious need, the number of individuals cross-trained in the disciplines of biomedical engineering and type 1 diabetes is extremely limited. Thus, we propose that a training program designed for co-mentoring of pre-doctoral students in an environment and culture providing strong interdisciplinary support for bioengineering and type 1 diabetes, will result in a new generation of researchers poised to contribute to a fuller understanding of, and new technologies for disease management, prevention and reversal.