This application is for the first renewal of a very successful NIEHS T32 Training Grant for the Joint Graduate Program in Exposure Science (JGPES) of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. In 1992, the JGPES was designated by the NJ Board of Education to offer a doctoral degree in Exposure Science, the first doctoral degree-granting program in this field in the United States. More than 50 doctoral students have been trained since its inception. Program graduates acquire a depth of knowledge and research experience at the cutting-edge of exposure science that allows them to build independent, multidisciplinary research programs within the broader field of environmental health. The first T32 pre-doctoral trainee is scheduled to receive her Ph.D. this summer; the first T32 postdoctoral trainee has accepted a tenure-track Assistant Professor position at Hunter College, City University of New York.
The aims of the JGPES and the T32 training grant are to provide pre-doctoral and postdoctoral trainees with: 1) a broad knowledge of human exposure science and its applications to the environmental health sciences and 2) rigorous training in each trainee's specialized areas of research. JGPES and T32 trainees work closely with the program's 16 faculty members (14 mentors) from five departments within four schools. In addition, trainees collaborate with other scientists working at the interface of exposure science and human health, including toxicologists, physician-scientists, engineers, environmental scientists, and clinical researchers. Their research incorporates emerging exposure science methods such as novel biomarker measurements, application of omic techniques, sensor systems, and utilization of big data in exposure-related mathematical modeling. The JGPES is associated with the NIEHS P30 Center of Environmental Exposure and Disease; both programs are housed within the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute (EOHSI), a multidisciplinary research center dedicated to environmental health research and education. EOHSI is one of five major institutes that, along with eight schools and a behavioral health care center, comprise Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS), a division of Rutgers devoted to the provision of health care, education, research, and community service. RBHS's recently completed strategic plan identified environmental and occupational health as one of five signature programs to be targeted for future investment and development, in recognition of its existing strength and promise. Thus, JGPES is conducted within a rich and supportive environment, providing trainees with unique opportunities to foster collaborative relationships among multidisciplinary scientists and peers. The investigators are requesting continued support for four pre-doctoral and two postdoctoral trainees annually for five years. The requested number of trainees is consistent with the expected growth of the program and field of exposure science over the next five years.
Understanding human exposure to environmental chemical and biological agents is a key component of protecting and improving public health. This proposal is the first renewal request for a training grant to educate the next generation of independent scholars in exposure science. This enables them to develop research programs to adequately address the emerging issues in the field and to collaborate with other scientists in the overarching discipline of environmental health.
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