T32 Signaling Pathways in Innate Immunity
In 2012, the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) was awarded a new training grant to enable graduate students and post-doctoral fellows the opportunity to obtain advanced training in the burgeoning field of innate immunity.
The Signaling Pathways in Innate Immunity (SPII) Program is comprised of more than 25 Training Grant Faculty (TGF) who are federally funded and are currently tackling complex problems related to the innate immune response in their research. For example, (i) how altered microbial chemistries modify interactions with innate immune receptors, (ii) structural biology of Toll-like Receptor (TLR) interactions, (iii) post-translational modifications of signaling proteins required for TLR signaling, (iv) discovery of endogenous proteins or antagonists that block TLR protein interactions and signaling, and (v) elucidation of downstream signaling pathways initiated by interferons that activate antiviral and antibacterial innate immune responses; (vi) the role of “alternatively activated macrophages in the induction and exacerbation of asthma, are the types of projects currently being studied.
During the first cycle of funding, we supported two graduate students and two postdoctoral fellows per year. Based on the success of our program, we are now able to support four graduate students and four postdoctoral fellows. Our T32 trainees are a close knit and interactive group. There are many potential opportunities for diverse experiences in the laboratories of these TGF for pre- and postdoctoral trainees.
The SPII program is directed by Dr. Stefanie Vogel, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, who has had extensive experience in studying innate immune mechanisms in response to infectious agents, primarily in macrophages. Drs. Achsah Keegan, Associate Director of the MD/PhD program at UMSOM, and Bret Hassel, Director of the Molecular Microbiology and Immunology (MMI) graduate program at UMSOM, are co-Directors of SPII. The majority of our graduate students and post-doctoral trainees come from the MMI program.
This figure is a model of innate immune signaling in which different aspects are numbered, with the number of Training Grant Faculty (TGF; in parentheses) who study each step. This figure emphasizes the potential for diverse experiences in the laboratories of our TGF for pre- and post-doctoral trainees. Interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary interactions among the trainees of our TGF is the norm, rather than the exception.