Training program for kinesiology, physiology students receives $1.3M grant

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State’s Department of Kinesiology and Intercollege Program in Physiology, part of the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, have received a $1,353,144, five-year pre-doctoral training grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The grant, "Research Training in Physiological Adaptations to Stress," will support a program designed to train scientists to meet the 21st century biomedical workforce demand.

The primary goal of the training program, which will include 25 to 30 students in kinesiology and physiology, is to provide a new generation of future scientists with comprehensive research training and educational experiences that emphasize a translational approach to understanding the physiological mechanisms that trigger and meditate organismal stress adaptation.

The training curriculum will focus on developing skill sets necessary for entry into emerging life science careers as outlined in the 2012 NIH Biomedical Research Workforce Working Group Report.

“The NIH has recognized for several years now that universities must be responsive to changes in the biomedical workforce, and implement new and different pre-doctoral training programs to meet these workforce needs,” said Donna Korzick, professor of physiology and kinesiology, and chair of the intercollege graduate degree program in physiology. “Scientists at Penn State took a big step forward in achieving a piece of the NIH roadmap with the funding of a doctoral training program which integrates cutting-edge interdisciplinary biomedical science with regulatory aspects of science, business and law, and will be funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS).”

“The NIH has estimated that 30 percent of biomedical Ph.D.s work in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries in research and nonresearch positions,” Korzick continued. “Their transition would be more effective if their training was better aligned with the required skill sets for these emerging careers. We have to do things differently if our students are going to be leaders in biomedical and translational science and discovery.”

The program will utilize existing faculty expertise within physiology, representing the Colleges of Health and Human Development, Medicine, Science, Engineering and Agricultural Sciences.

“I am delighted about this terrific new graduate training grant which pulls together faculty from University Park and the College of Medicine. Such grants are very difficult to get in this tough funding environment so I applaud Dr. Korzick and her team for the innovative ideas and thoughtful planning that went into the proposal,” said Ann C. Crouter, Raymond E. and Erin Stuart Schultz Dean of the College of Health and Human Development. “The trainees will participate in an exciting set of experiences inside and outside the classroom that will equip them well for scientific careers focused on health-related research. Training grants not only prepare graduate students well for interdisciplinary, collaborative research but they have a special way of bringing faculty together around joint teaching and mentoring activities that often spin off into new collaborations and research projects.”

Students will be trained to develop and utilize trans-disciplinary teams that employ in vitro and in vivo physiological systems, an approach that can be applied to any disease or pathology. The aim is to produce scientists who have a mindset for developing research programs with widespread translational appeal suitable for varied career paths ranging from academia to industry.

For more information about the Department of Kinesiology at Penn State, visit www.hhd.psu.edu/kines. For information about The College of Health and Human Development, visit www.hhd.psu.edu. For more information about the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences at Penn State, visit www.huck.psu.edu. For more information about the physiology program at the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, visit www.huck.psu.edu/education/physiology.

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Last Updated August 18, 2014