Molecular Microbiology Training Grant

Michael Norgard, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Microbiology, is principal investigator and Director of a National Institutes of Health-supported Molecular Microbiology Training Grant (MMTG). Currently, the MMTG is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) until August 31, 2014. The program integrates and coordinates its activities with UT Southwestern’s Molecular Microbiology Graduate Program.

A Unique Approach

A particularly attractive feature of this MMTG is its departure from a conventional program or departmental-based training to an interdisciplinary program that maintains a microbiology orientation while also broadening the scope of the training mission to include many other aspects of molecular and cell biology. The diverse backgrounds of the 24 trainers, composed of a core group of established investigators with accomplished records and an expanding new faculty, represent interdisciplinary research programs bound by the common theme of molecular and cellular microbiology.

The training faculty emanate from nine different UT Southwestern Medical School departments and centers. The overall objective is to train students and postdoctoral fellows for research careers in the molecular bases of microbial pathogenesis, cellular microbiology, host defense mechanisms, vaccine development, and other related areas.

Training Opportunities

The MMTG currently supports five predoctoral and two postdoctoral trainees each year. In general, activities toward the Ph.D. degree should include:

  • Required course work supplemented with multidisciplinary electives
  • Special training in the ethical conduct of science
  • Attendance at and participation in seminars, research forums, socials, and journal clubs
  • Achievement on a "grant application" style qualifying examination
  • Intensive research culminating in the doctoral dissertation

Postdoctoral fellows also enroll in a Certificate Program and have the opportunity to consolidate basic skills, develop independence in scientific thinking and research planning, obtain specialized training in writing, and learn new areas of basic scientific inquiry and technology (e.g., translational research). Fellows also are involved in teaching, presenting at journal clubs and research seminars, and contributing to the general "ferment" that drives scientific progress.

Trainees who complete the Molecular Microbiology Graduate Program will become skilled in applying contemporary approaches to solve important problems in the microbiological sciences and in improving preventive and/or therapeutic intervention strategies.