Tissue Microenvironment Training Program (T32) Project Summary/Abstract A quantitative understanding of the tissue microenvironment (TiMe) is now recognized as critical for advancing biomedical science and healthcare, ranging from regenerative medicine to managing the burden of cancer. To this end, the integration of three technological approaches is essential: (a) sensing and imaging to measure biochemical and biophysical parameters, (b) bioengineering to recapitulate the TiMe, and (c) computational modeling to develop the next generation of productive scientific leaders. Accordingly, we propose a unique educational platform in which predoctoral students will integrate the use of the three technological approaches in TiMe-related studies using the biological contexts of disease and development. With intensive mentoring and systematic activities focused on professional development, trainees will become the next generation of interdisciplinary leaders capable of undertaking fundamental research and enabling translational advances. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has exceptionally strong disciplinary programs, diverse faculty spanning the intellectual arc of the program, and appropriate facilities and unique resources in each of these technological areas. The Training Program is distinctly advantaged by our strong history of successful graduate training, including a commitment to diversity and individuals with disabilities, a culture of productive collaboration, a new Department of Bioengineering, and strong institutional support. Thirty-nine faculty, many of whom are currently collaborating in TiMe research, will serve as faculty mentors. At least eight trainees will be supported for up to two years each. NIH-supported trainees (4), augmented by University support for additional trainees (4, ramping up to 5 in year 3), will be drawn from a strong applicant pool across campus. Training will include four core components-Curricular Activities to ensure depth in the three technological areas and apposite breadth across disciplines, Extracurricular Activities to develop pragmatic skills, Professional Development to empower trainees to become research leaders, and Career Development to ensure trainees make lifelong contributions to society. The activities will be structured in a manner to streamline education, allowing the students to focus efficiently on research, and the awarded doctoral degree will include a special designation (concentration in TiMe). Traditional education will further be enhanced by co- mentored research with possibilities of translational opportunities via a new engineering-based College of Medicine. Outcomes will be rigorously evaluated throughout the program to improve training, to guide administrative decision-making and to disseminate best practices. The vision, expertise, and infrastructure of the Illinois TiMe Training Program will ensure that trainees selected from a strong and diverse graduate community will provide sustained research contributions to benefit public health.
We propose to establish a Tissue Microenvironment (TiMe) Training Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Focusing on three technological themes- bioengineering, imaging and sensing, and computational modeling-the program will focus on both intellectual and professional development of students. Building on the collaborative faculty, leading disciplinary expertise at Illinois, and extensive facilities and exceptional institutional support, this unique educational platform will train the next generation f interdisciplinary leaders capable of undertaking fundamental research and enabling translational advances.
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