Training Programs

The Center for Lung Biology provides a vibrant collaborative research environment within the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, forming an outstanding framework for training in lung biology and related areas. In addition to the strong research programs of our faculty, there are a number of relevant seminars held weekly during the academic year, including those in the Center's Research Seminar Series, the joint Physiology-Pharmacology Cell Signaling Seminar Series, and the weekly College of Medicine Distinguished Scientist Seminar. The Center's weekly Research-in-Progress meeting is a forum for faculty and trainees to critically discuss current data as well as relevant literature. A key element of training is the development of a network for collaboration and mentoring. To that end, all Center trainees meet with visiting scientists and are expected to present their work at national meetings. In addition to the expectation for abstracts and research papers, advanced graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are expected to develop and submit a grant proposal for extramural funding. The Center offers training opportunities for students and fellows at any academic stage.

For more information regarding training opportunities within the Center for Lung Biology, contact:

Dr. Mary Townsley
Director, Training Programs
Center for Lung Biology
5851 USA Drive N., Rm. 3340
University of South Alabama
Mobile, AL 36688
Phone: (251) 460-7086
Email: mtownsley@southalabama.edu

 

▼   Undergraduate Research Opportunities

The Center for Lung Biology offers summer traineeships on a competitive basis to undergraduates who are investigating pursuing graduate school and a career in biomedical research. Individuals (US citizens or permanent residents) completing their freshman, sophomore or junior year of college in the sciences, engineering or mathematics with a GPA above 3.0 are encouraged to apply.

Summer undergraduate research fellows will receive a competitive stipend ($2,500) for 10 weeks of full-time research focusing on lung biology in health and disease with one of the Center for Lung Biology faculty. Fellows will gain experience in state of the art research methods, read pertinent literature, participate in laboratory meetings and discussions, interact with faculty and other trainees in the Center for Lung Biology, and potentially be a coauthor on a publication resulting from their work. On-campus housing is available, a short walk from the Medical Sciences Building. A variety of off campus apartments are available within 5 minutes of the University. Transportation and housing costs are not provided.

The Summer Undergraduate Research program in the Center for Lung Biology is a full-time commitment. Fellows should not be otherwise employed or taking classes during this period. In addition to the research project, fellows will participate in a weekly seminar series highlighting current issues in medical research and present a poster on their work at the end of the summer.

For more information, please contact:

Angie O'Neal
Office of Research Education and Training
(251) 460-6153
aoneal@southalabama.edu 

In addition, a number of other research opportunities are available through the University-wide Undergraduate Summer Research Program and the University Honors program. More information is available here.

▼   Medical Students

There are two mechanisms by which medical students gain research training at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine: the Summer Research Program and the Honors Program.

Summer Research:
The College of Medicine sponsors a 10-week Summer Research Program targeted specifically for medical students who wish to gain a better appreciation for biomedical research. The summer experience includes a seminar program which focuses on various scientific and clinical topics. Applications and proposal abstracts are available on the web in early Spring semester. Opportunities for medical students to complete summer research in the Center for Lung Biology will be highlighted here at that time.

Honors Program:
This program is targeted to medical students who wish to gain more in-depth research training in an area of clinical or basic medical science. Students who participate in the Summer Research Program prior to their Sophomore year and who subsequently apply to the Research Honors Program may receive credit for the summer research training. Guidelines and the application form for the Research Honors Program are available in the College of Medicine Student Handbook or contact the Office of Student Affairs.

▼   M.D./Ph.D Program

Highly qualified individuals who are interested in academic medicine and careers as clinical investigators may wish to pursue both the M.D. and Ph.D. degrees. The University of South Alabama College of Medicine does not have a formal medical scientist training program. Students must apply and be accepted to each program individually in order to pursue a combined degree tract. Achievement of minimal acceptance standards will not guarantee acceptance into a combined degree tract.

Students complete the first two pre-clinical years of medical training and Step 1 of the USMLE. Research training and advanced graduate program coursework is completed during years 3-5. Upon defense of the Ph.D. dissertation, students enter clinical clerkships to complete M.D. training. Support during the Ph.D. portion of the training program is guaranteed, including stipend, tuition waiver and personal health insurance.

▼   Ph.D. Program

The USA College of Medicine offers the Ph.D. degree in Basic Medical Science. Students matriculating into program complete the one-year interdisciplinary core curriculum prior to beginning advanced coursework and focused research training. Students interested in Lung Biology have the opportunity to train with any of the Center faculty. All students in the BMS graduate program receive a stipend ($23,000 since Fall 2008), full tuition waiver, and personal healthcare insurance. Information regarding extramural funding for graduate training at the USA Center for Lung Biology will be posted to this web site.

Academic requirements for students wishing to pursue advanced training in lung biology include:

Completion of the interdisciplinary core curriculum

Required advanced courses

  • IDL 636 Advanced signal transduction (summer, year 1)
  • IDL 640 Biostatistics and experimental design (summer, year 1)
  • IDL 630 Lung biology (fall, year 2)
  • IDL 631 Lung pathobiology (spring, year 2)
  • IDL 676 Literature reports in lung biology (Research in Progress or RIP)

Recommended electives

  • IDL 590 Special topics: Presentation skills; abstracts
  • IDL 641 Effective scientific writing (fall, year 2 or year 3)
  • IDL 650 Special topics in lung biology (offered every Spring term)
  • IDL 656 Research seminar in lung biology (Pulmonary conference; years 3-5)

Qualifying exam

For other formal and informal requirements for the doctoral program in Basic Medical Sciences, including overall academic performance standards, see the BMS Student Handbook.

▼   Post-Doctoral Training

Specific job opportunities for postdoctoral trainees will be posted to this web site. However, highly qualified and motivated candidates who are particularly interested in research in the Center for Lung Biology should contact the Director of Training Programs regarding availability of training positions. Inclusion of a current Curriculum Vitae and a cover letter stating research background and interest in the Center for Lung Biology will facilitate discussions. Inquiries may be submitted by mail or by email.

Several extramural sources are available to support postdoctoral training for Ph.D. fellows.

Postdoctoral Fellowships from the National Institutes of Health:
https://researchtraining.nih.gov/programs/fellowships

American Lung Association Research Training Fellowships:
http://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/research/

Parker B. Francis Pulmonary Fellowships:
http://www.francisfellowships.org/

American Heart Association Greater Southeast Affiliate Postdoctoral Fellowships:
https://professional.heart.org/

Pulmonary Hypertension Association Postdoctoral Fellowships:
http://my.americanheart.org/

▼   Clinical Fellowships

The mission of the Center for Lung Biology is to provide state of the art scientific development in lung biology that advances the understanding of human health and disease. One important element of fellowship training is development of research expertise. The focus on translational research in lung biology and pathobiology in the Center provides outstanding opportunities for clinical fellows to obtain research training.

The Center for Lung Biology is committed to assisting career development for clinical investigators. This begins with in-depth research training and continues through support of fellows to develop extramurally funded research programs.

Several extramural sources are available to support career development for clinical fellows who are developing their research expertise and who are committed to academic medicine.

Clinical Research Loan Repayment Program developed by the National Institutes of Health is designed to attract health professionals to clinical research:
http://www.lrp.nih.gov/eligibility-programs#programs

Career Development Awards from the National Institutes of Health:
https://researchtraining.nih.gov/programs/career-development

Fellow-to-Faculty Awards from the American Heart Association:
http://www.heart.org

American Lung Association Career Investigator Awards:
http://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/research/

Parker B. Francis Pulmonary Fellowships:
http://www.francisfellowships.org

▼   NIH T32

NIH-funded Predoctoral Training Program in "Cell Signaling and Lung Pathobiology"

The T32 Training Program in "Cell Signaling and Lung Pathobiology" is in its second 5-year cycle of funding (2009-2014) from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (HL076125). The Program supports predoctoral trainees enrolled in the interdisciplinary Basic Medical Sciences PhD program at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine. Program faculty, affiliated with the Basic Science Departments and the Center for Lung Biology, provide a breadth of expertise with respect to lung biology and pathobiology, with extramurally funded research focusing on regulation of lung endothelial barrier function, acute lung injury and repair, etiology and treatment of pulmonary hypertension, epithelial solute transport and cystic fibrosis, smooth muscle function in normal and diseased lung, and regulation of gene expression and DNA repair. We have the expertise to train students in diverse state-of-the art research approaches ranging from those used to explore molecular mechanisms to those applicable to evaluating integrative function. The effectiveness of this program is evidenced by the success of trainees in publication, accrual of individual extramural fellowships, and progression to biomedical research jobs in academia, industry and the government.
 

Lung Biology Timeline

 

Students selected will be initially appointed to the Training Program for one year. Renewal of appointment for a second year of support is contingent upon maintenance of good academic standing and progress in training. Reappointment for a third year of support may be considered in some cases. Trainees will receive the current NIH predoctoral stipend, health insurance, and funds for trainee travel to professional meetings. Stipends are supplemented by the Center and/or Departments to bring the total stipend to $23,000 per year. All trainees receive tuition waivers.

 

Advanced Coursework in Lung Biology

IDL 636 Advanced Signal Transduction
IDL 640 Biostatistics and Experimental Design
IDL 630 Lung Biology
IDL 631 Lung Pathobiology
IDL 676 Journal Club: Research-in-Progress

Recommended Electives

IDL 590 Special Topics: Presentation Skills. Abstracts
IDL 641 Effective Scientific Writing
IDL 650 Special Topics in Lung Biology
IDL 656 Translational Research Conference (joint with the Pulmonary Div., Department of Medicine)


Other facets of the research training experience (committee meetings, qualifying examinations, participation in journal clubs and seminars, etc.) adhere to the requirements set by the Basic Medical Sciences Ph.D. Program. Trainees will be required to complete the Qualifying Examination early in the second year of Training Grant support and to subsequently submit a proposal for an individual predoctoral fellowship to an extramural funding agency.

Contact:
Dr. Mary Townsley, Program Director
Center for Lung Biology
5851 USA Drive N., Rm 3340
University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL 36688
Phone: (251) 460-6815
Email: mtownsley@southalabama.edu

Training Program Faculty

Mary Townsley, Ph.D., Professor, Departments of Physiology/Medicine, Program Director
Regional heterogeneity and transient receptor potential cation channels in regulation of lung endothelial permeability, adaptations to chronic pulmonary hypertension

Stephen Ballard, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Physiology
Biophysical transport processes which control lung airway liquid secretion, defects in chloride ion transport and impact on mucociliary clearance in cystic fibrosis

Karen Fagan, M.D., Associate Professor, Chief of Pulmonary Division, Department of Medicine
Role of intermittent hypoxia, inflammation, sustained abnormal vasoconstriction and proximal vascular stiffening in pulmonary hypertension, therapeutic clinical trials in PAH

Brian Fouty, M.D., Associate Professor, Department of Medicine
Vascular remodeling in pulmonary hypertension

William Gerthoffer, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Department of Biochemistry
Smooth muscle contractility, actin cytoskeleton, myosin motor proteins and small heat shock proteins by protein kinases

Mark Gillespie, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Department of Pharmacology
Inter- and intracellular signaling which contribute to hypertensive pulmonary vascular remodeling, impact of reactive oxygen species on gene regulation

Richard Honkanen, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Biochemistry
Role of phosphatases in the cross-talk between glucocorticoid and hypoxia-induced signaling networks, regulation of cell growth and apoptosis

Susan LeDoux, Ph.D., Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Cell Biology/Neuroscience
Mechanisms of cellular protection against genotoxic insult, including nuclear and mitochondrial DNA repair

Thomas Lincoln, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Department of Physiology
Nitric oxide-dependent regulation of protein kinase G and vascular smooth muscle cell gene expression

Ivan McMurtry, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Pharmacology
Pulmonary vasoregulation and endothelial control of tone in pulmonary hypertension, RhoA/Rho kinase signaling

Thomas Rich, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology
Biophysics, modeling of β adrenergic receptor- and cyclic nucleotide-mediated signaling

Troy Stevens, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Pharmacology, Director Center for Lung Biology
Cellular mechanisms promoting lung endothelial barrier disruption in inflammation; ion channels and endothelial phenotypic heterogeneity

David Weber, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Physiology
Role of reactive oxygen species in vascular smooth muscle migration

Glenn Wilson, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Department of Cell Biology/Neuroscience
Environmental factors leading to nuclear and mitochondrial DNA damage, mechanisms of aging