The number of available organs for transplantation is severely limited by a shortage of donors. Regenerative medicine has emerged as a field that brings the potential of designing and creating artificial organs, or parts of organs, closer to reality. To develop functional tissue requires applying concepts in tissue engineering and molecular/developmental biology in innovative ways. This requires a new type of scientist who has been well-trained in the concepts and methods at the interfaces of engineering and the molecular/developmental biology disciplines. Successfully integrating these approaches could dramatically catalyze the formation of a new interdisciplinary approach to organ building. This would have a profound impact on the treatment of many diseases. The ODET (Organ Design and Engineering postdoctoral Training) Program continues to provide scientifically rigorous, multidisciplinary research training for postdoctoral fellows. Individuals accepted into the Program have experience focused in an engineering or biological discipline and are cross-trained in an area of expertise complementary to their primary research background. Working at the intersection of engineering and molecular/developmental/regenerative biology, trainees learn a new language and ultimately develop a common dialect that effectively bridges disciplines. This new generation of scholars is prepared to address the complexity of organ design and engineering from an interdisciplinary approach. The program is enriched with outstanding dual-mentor interactions, regularly scheduled program meetings, where fellows and faculty cross-fertilize, and required coursework focused on biological science if fellows are engineers and engineering if their prior focus was in biology. Since its inception in 2007, the program has formalized the evaluation of trainees' development as well as provided increased opportunities for research presentations and feedback. We successfully changed the standard postdoctoral mode of training from the one postdoctoral fellow - one mentor - one laboratory approach to a true ?dual-mentor? model where fellows spend time in the laboratories of two mentors and benefit from active communication across laboratories, institutions and geographic boundaries. This program continues to provide trainees with tools necessary to become independent investigators facile with an interdisciplinary approach to science. Trainees who have received support from this grant over the past 10 years have high quality publications, have moved to academic faculty, international research labs and industry leadership positions. We look forward to continuing to train leaders in multidisciplinary research with exposure to clinical challenges facilitated by close interactions with clinicians, while critically assessing and improving the fellowship experience by optimizing research and mentoring opportunities for the next generation of engineer-investigators in regenerative medicine.
We ask to continue an interdisciplinary postdoctoral training program designed to nurture the development of and provide scientifically rigorous, multidisciplinary research training for future leaders during their early, formative stages. This is accomplished by providing our trainees with research training under dual mentorship, outstanding training in disciplines critical to the application of engineering principles for organ design, and resources of prominent affiliated institutions with cutting-edge basic science, clinical, and translational research programs.
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