Reproductive Sciences T32

GOALS AND HISTORY
The goal of this T32 training program is to recruit and train qualified PhD scientists in reproductive science and to facilitate their career development and retention in this field. As a result of the first 5 years of this grant, the visibility of reproductive sciences at Washington University has grown, and we have recruited more junior faculty within the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology who primarily perform basic and translational science research. New grant-funded collaborations and interactions among participating faculty also have been established. This T32 program sparked interest and expansion in reproductive science at our institution.

RESEARCH PROGRAM
The research program is built upon collaborative efforts among 15 outstanding faculty mentors in 7 different departments. Five subgroups exist within our T32 training program reflecting the diverse expertise of our program: Developmental Biology, Stem Cell/Germ Cell Biology, Molecular Endocrinology and Aging, Endometrial Cancer Genetics and Maternal Fetal Biology. A highly structured and thoughtfully designed program will allow trainees the opportunity to mature as interdisciplinary reproductive scientists in a superb scientific setting at Washington University. Trainees will actively participate in ongoing research in a laboratory under the mentor's supervision. In addition, resources of the department and the medical campus are incorporated in this program as career development tools for trainees, such as grant and manuscript writing and one-on-one interaction with mentors highly committed to and experienced in postdoctoral training. In addition, a clinical mentorship is also available to those trainees interested in the clinical application of their research in any of the 5 areas.

MENTORS AND PROGRAMS

  1. Developmental Biology: Drs. Solinca-Krezel, Ornitz, Heuckeroth and Kroll
  2. Stem Cells and Germ Cell Biology: Drs. Gottleib, Schedl, and Moley
  3. Molecular Endocrinology and Aging: Drs. Baranski, Boime, Moley and Imai
  4. Endometrial Cancer Genetics: Drs. Ma, Curiel and Schedl
  5. Maternal Fetal Biology: Drs. Nelson, Atkinson and Yokoyama

PROPOSED TRAINING
The goal of this training program for the last five years has been to provide outstanding
research appointments and competitive training in contemporary reproductive biology to talented young postdoctoral trainees in a departmental environment of obstetrics and gynecology. The ultimate aim is to train individuals to be productive independent investigators for positions in academia, government and industry and to bring to these institutions an expertise in basic science as it relates to women’s health. This newly revised program expands our original group of Reproductive Sciences to 15 mentors representing 7 different departments, both clinical and basic science. The major change involves the addition of the newly appointed chair of developmental biology and three members of her department to our mentor list. The major focus of the training will be on the research experience in the laboratory of one (or more) of the training faculty. The trainees will also be required to participate in department journal clubs and research meetings, and possibly enrich their training with coursework in areas of weakness if deemed necessary by their mentors and the Executive Committee. They will also be expected to attend symposia on grant and paper writing skills, career development planning, lab business management skills and leadership/administrative aptitude (see below for seminar series). Another addition to this application is the new clinical mentorship offered to those postdoctoral fellows interested in shadowing physician scientists in their area of research interest. A total of six physician scientists in our mentor pool, representing all 5 thematic programs, have agreed to participate in this 3-week clinical mentorship program. This requires a once-a-week shadowing session during the last year of the postdoctoral fellows training program. Four of the 6 physicians would participate to give the trainee a total of 12 weeks of hands on clinical mentorship. Dr. Moley is currently the program director of the Clinical Mentoring Program within the Markey Pathway in Biomedical Research (see below) and is familiar with this program.

Duration of training
Trainees will spend on average 3 years of postdoctoral training in this program. The length of support from the training grant will depend on a progress report written by the trainees and a written evaluation from their mentor near the end of their first year of support. The Steering Committee will review these progress reports and evaluations and determine whether an additional year of support is warranted. During the first year of participation in the program, the trainees will be required to apply for individual traineeships from the NIH or other funding agencies. This will provide them an opportunity to formulate a research project and write a research grant proposal, one of the major missions of this training program.

TRAINING PROGRAM FRAMEWORK
Each postdoctoral trainee in the program will be expected to conduct in-depth research, as well as participate in journal clubs and research seminars in the department. They will also be trained to seek out and apply for relevant grants and to write scientific manuscripts. They may also be required to take relevant courses depending on their background and research interest. The major emphasis of the postdoctoral trainees will be participation in independent research projects. Trainees will be encouraged to develop solid research programs during their tenure as trainees. Trainees will choose the laboratory in which they wish to work with the advice and guidance of the Steering Committee. As part of their training, postdoctoral trainees will be encouraged to present their work not only locally within the university but also at national or international meetings. Trainees will be expected to submit abstracts to scientific meetings relevant to the laboratory in which they are conducting their research. Trainees will be encouraged to interact with other participating faculty members and thus will be exposed to more than one laboratory setting. This environment will enrich their training experience. A mandatory weekly lunch/journal club is held in the OB/GYN library for all trainees, other postdoctoral trainees or graduate students and faculty. Dr. Moley will be in charge of assigning the dates to the trainees and faculty and guiding them in their choice of papers. Journal club meetings to discuss current problems in specific areas of research are actively ongoing in the laboratories of several preceptors and welcome trainees of other laboratories.