Pathometabolism Training Program
The Pathometabolism Training Program in the Department of Pathology and Microbiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center offers broad-based training that combines molecular, cell biological, immunological, and metabolism to investigate comprehensively mechanisms of disease caused by bacteria and their interactions with the host. This multidisciplinary approach not only provides a strong foundation in infectious disease research, but also enhances the graduate experience through introduction to cutting-edge research. The primary goal is to produce well-trained scientists to address the future needs of infectious disease research in academic, industrial, or government settings. The program provides state-of-the-art training in basic science relevant to infectious diseases with particular emphasis on metabolic and metabolomic aspects of bacterial pathogenesis and pathogen-host interactions.
The eleven faculty members of the Pathometabolism Training Program at UNMC, with nationally and internationally recognized expertise in Staphylococcus aureus, Chlamydia trachomatis, Coxiella burnetii, and Francisella tularensis provide broad-based and in-depth training to the next generation of independent scientists with expertise in metabolism, metabolomics. The program takes advantage of the Department’s strength in bacterial pathogenesis research. It is rigorous and supported by excellent infrastructure, including core facilities that serves the genomic, proteomic, metabolomic, super-resolution imaging, and next-generation sequencing requirements of the trainees. In addition, the Program enjoys institutional support, fosters collaborative research, and promotes inclusion and diversity.
Depth and Breadth of Training in Bacterial Pathogenesis – Eleven principal investigators have research programs that incorporate metabolism and/or metabolomics in addressing mechanistic and biological bases of bacterial infection and pathogen-host interactions.
An Interdisciplinary Program in a Collaborative Environment – The Pathometabolism Research Cluster incorporates cutting-edge ‘omics and imaging technologies to elucidate changes to the metabolism, proteome, transcriptome, gene regulation, and overall virulence of the pathogen to manipulate the host at the cellular, tissue, and organismal levels. Students receive training in cell and molecular biology, biochemistry, microbial physiology and genetics, immunology, and bioinformatics.
An Established Link with Nebraska Medicine Clinical Microbiology – An opportunity exists to interact with the Clinical Microbiology laboratory at Nebraska Medicine that includes attending meetings, clinical rounds, etc.
Strong Institutional Commitment – The Pathometabolism Research Cluster was formed to solidify the recent efforts by the Department of Pathology and Microbiology and the College of Medicine to expand the bacterial pathogenesis research program. Five new principal investigators have been recruited starting at 2017. The resulting critical mass of investigators prompted the formation of the Research Cluster to enhance existing collaborations and to foster new ones, with the immediate goal of creating a center of excellence in research on the metabolic interactions of the pathogen and the host, and their effects on disease progression.
Features of the Program
Students who join one of the laboratories in the Program will receive a state of the art education oriented towards in bacterial pathogenesis and host interaction with increasing emphasis in microbial and host cell physiology, metabolism, and metabolomics as they progress through the course curriculum and their research projects. The Program is actively engaged in promoting a comprehensive and rigorous training that critically evaluates student progress while simultaneously instilling confidence to students as they progress to become independent scientists. Trainees enter the Immunology, Pathology, and Infectious Diseases Graduate Program or the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences (IGPBS), and decide to join one of the eleven research groups after rotations.
- Well-funded research projects – The research programs of trainers in the Pathometabolism Cluster are currently supported by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, and others. Investigators have brought in nearly $7 million in total funding in 2020-2021.
- Pathometabolism-focused seminar speakers – The Department of Pathology and Microbiology host a series of distinguished external speakers monthly, with at least half having expertise in the molecular and metabolic bases of bacterial pathogenesis.
- Pathometabolism-tailored course curriculum - Students in the program are encouraged to take courses in Bacterial Metabolism, Bacterial Genetics, Immunology, and Cell Biology of Infection. There are also opportunities to sign up for courses in Bioinformatics and Statistics in Biological Research.