Core B: Education and Training Core
Education and Training Core
The training of students, research fellows, and clinicians is an integral part of this Wellstone Center proposal on the "Biomarkers for Therapy of FSHD". The goal of our training program is to prepare young scientists for independent careers studying skeletal muscle biology and muscular dystrophy, with a strong focus on FSHD, and to provide them with the mentoring and assistance they need to begin those careers successfully. Although the training described below focuses largely on predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows, the participating laboratories are also actively involved in mentoring medical residents, clinical fellows, and junior faculty at the early stages of their careers studying muscle biology and neuromuscular disease.
Selection of Trainees
This program uses funds provided by the Core to support two trainees, both of whom may be at the postdoctoral level, with 0 or 1 year of previous postdoctoral experience, or one pre-doctoral and one postdoctoral fellow from funds. Additional funds for two postdoctoral fellows will be provided by the Boston Biomedical Research Institute and other institutions involved in the program, bringing the total to 4 trainees. Recruitment and selection of trainees is and will be supervised by a committee consisting of Dr. Bloch (Core Director), Dr. Emerson (Director of the Wellstone Center), and Dr. Kunkel (Co-Director of the Wellstone Center), in consultation with the Center Advisory Committee.
We use standard methods for recruiting trainees, including maintaining an attractive and interactive website and placing advertisements annually in Science. Project leaders will routinely include references to the Wellstone Center and its training activities when they attend meetings or present seminars around the country. In addition, we ensure that the pre- and postdoctoral training programs within our own institutions are aware of our training efforts, with the aim of attracting pre-doctoral students, recent graduates, and other eligible postdoctoral fellows to our laboratories to study FSHD. We also anticipate that many potential candidates for training will approach our project leaders with requests to join their laboratories. We therefore expect to have several candidates for each position we can support with funds from this Core.
We select all candidates for support according to the following criteria: (i) a strong background in cell and molecular biology and/or genetics, and, if appointment is to be at the postdoctoral level, experience working in the area of skeletal muscle biology; (ii) letters of recommendation indicating an aptitude for and commitment to research; (iii) if appropriate to their stage of career, a good record of publication; (iv) a commitment to work on FSHD. Recommendations of fellows for support from this Wellstone Center will be made by the Core Director and the Center Director and Co-Director to the Center Advisory Committee, whose approval will be required.
We allot positions according to merit, as judged by the above criteria. When two trainees with approximately equal merit are being considered, but only one position is open, we also take into account the equitable distribution of positions among participating laboratories and consider which of the candidates is most likely to engage in collaborative research involving two or more laboratories in the Center. Although we are prepared to train individuals who are not US citizens or permanent residents and will recruit them into our training program, we will use funds provided by the UMMS more towards the support of individuals from outside the country, and funds provided through the Wellstone Center primarily for support of US citizens and permanent residents. Individuals from under-represented minority groups in the US will be actively sought as participants in this Center.
Trainees receive support from the Core for no more than 2 years. Support after the first year will be contingent on the trainee making good progress in his or her research, assessed by the project leaders and the committee responsible for selecting trainees (Drs. Emerson, Kunkel and Bloch). To remain well informed about the performance of individual trainees, the committee will request brief written evaluations from the appropriate project leaders at regular intervals (e.g., quarterly). Additional evaluations are done at the annual retreat, when the committee, all project leaders, as well as guests participants, have the opportunity to view the posters presented by trainees and to assess the progress they are making (see below).
Whenever possible, trainees are encouraged to seek independent funding during their first year of Core support, to free up their second year of support for use by a newly recruited trainee. Other grants for which they can apply include individual NRSAs from the NIH, Development Grants from the Muscular Dystrophy Association, fellowships from the FSH Society or regional branches of the American Heart Association. The project leaders actively mentor their trainees as they prepare their fellowship applications. In addition, the BBRI has committed funds to support a postdoctoral fellow for two years, and actively seeks to raise additional funds to expand and extend this commitment. Supplementary funding of our trainees is also available from institutional training grants already funded at some of our institutions by the NIH.
If other sources of support are not available after the 2 allotted years of Core support are completed, individual project leaders will have the option of offering trainees ongoing support from other sources. We intend to keep all the trainees we recruit into the Wellstone Center actively involved in our training program for the entire time they remain in one of the participating laboratories. Thus, whether they continue to be supported by funds provided by the Center or by other funds, they will participate in our annual retreat and attend national meetings as part of their training.
Training and Education Core B
Principal Investigator: Robert Bloch
The training of students, research fellows, and clinicians, organized by the Education and Training Core, will form an integral part of this Wellstone Center proposal on "Biomarkers for Therapy of FSHD". The core's goal is to prepare young scientists for independent careers studying skeletal muscle biology and muscular dystrophy, with a strong focus on FSHD, and to provide them with research skills, through mentoring and assistance, to facilitate their transition to productive careers in muscular dystrophy research. The Core will provide trainees for all the projects involved in this proposal. It will be directed by Drs. Bloch (Core Director), Emerson (P.I., and Core Co-Director) and Kunkel (co-P.I.), who, with oversight by the Center Advisory Committee and NIH staff, will work with Center investigators to recruit, appoint, fund and mentor trainees. All fellows will participate in collaborative research projects with Center investigators, to implement the goals of the Center and to acquire multidisciplinary expertise and training in muscle and muscular dystrophy research. The Core's activities, designed to enhance training, will include a biennial meeting with a FSHD patient group, and a research conference on FSHD organized as a satellite to the annual meeting of the American Society for Human Genetics, and an annual research retreat. The retreat will focus on education and mentoring, through afternoon "mini-courses" on skeletal muscle biology and muscular dystrophy, a "brown bag lunch" session on the Responsible Conduct of Scientific Research, formal presentations, informal discussions, and one-on-one mentoring sessions. The Center will recruit and appoint one predoctoral and one postdoctoral trainee and support them for up to 2 years, with additional funding to be made available thereafter through their mentors' laboratories or other sources. Supplementary funding for additional fellows will be provided by faculty research grants, and funds from the Boston Biomedical Research Institute and other participating institutions, with the expectation that there will be12 fellows participating in our Education and Training Core at any given time.