Program Overview

NLHBI funded T32 is an interdisciplinary, vascular biology training program that draws on institutional expertise in four themes: Angiogenesis & Regeneration, Vascular Signaling, Neurovascular Biology and Vascular Therapeutics. VBST is made up of thirty-one (31) mentors, of which nine (9) are physician-scientists. This training program will utilize expertise within and interactions between the themes to train predoctoral and postdoctoral applicants in an integrative fashion.

The Objective of the VBST T32 Program is to provide collaborative mentoring, stipend, and travel funds to those considering a research career as an independent, NIH funded, PI at a research institute. The VBST T32 also trains those considering opportunities within the pharma industry (pharmaceuticals/biotech), publishing, and advocacy.

The overarching goals of the VBST at UIC are:

  1. Attract outstanding trainees representing diverse disciplines, from molecular to physiological, computational, bioengineering, bioinformatics, or drug discovery.
  2. Provide rigorous, comprehensive knowledge in cutting-edge cardiovascular science.
  3. Promote understanding of clinical activities, treatments, and drug development for vascular diseases.
  4. Teach multidisciplinary scientific approaches that promote integrative, divergent thinking.
  5. Build an intellectually diverse interdisciplinary community of scientists and mentors seeking new approaches and collaborations dedicated to cures for vascular disease.
  6. Build skillsets in presentation, meeting organization, and outreach.
  7. Support pipeline of future T32 leaders by mentoring Junior faculty on VBST.

Who can apply?
Predoctoral and Postdoctoral students who seek vascular biology training and whose mentor is a member of one of the four VBST themes.

Why apply for a T32 grant?
Before early career scientists can establish their own laboratory and obtain external funding, they must first demonstrate their talent and motivation for independent research as a predoctoral student and postdoctoral fellow. There are several external funding sources which afford trainees this opportunity; NIH F awards, NIH K awards, AHA predoc/postdoc awards, UIC Physiology based fellowships (Solaro Fellowship) awards. The T32 training grant provides an opportunity for trainee support and development with a cohort of trainees.
What sets the T32 training grant apart from the external predoc/postdoc funding sources, is that the awardees are selected internally and are associated with faculty who collaboratively work towards a common theme, in this case vascular biology research. For such T32s, mentors are typically familiar with the applicant, their ambitions, their talent to generate an independent hypothesis, and their talent as an experimentalist. Indeed, our own colleagues know us well and in greater depth than can be provided by an external reviewer. The selection of a trainee onto the VBST program speaks volumes on a trainee’s CVs and is associated with success on subsequent applications for individual fellowships.

Expectations of our T32 Trainees:
  1. Develop time and project management skills to support both the advisor’s lab and their own independent pursuits.
  2. Required coursework: Pharmacology and Biology of the Vessel Wall (PCOL 530, 2 hrs).
  3. Acquire new preliminary data necessary to further develop their hypothesis.
  4. Prepare an external funding grant application for submission during, or soon after completion of T32 support.
  5. Publish data linked to the T32 within the first few years of entering the program.
  6. Continue drawing upon Mentors in the VBST program.
  7. Trainees are to attend the T32 Career Development Workshop. The trainees will work on their IDP and discussed it in a 5-session career planning workshop (career planning introduction and self-assessment, career exploration, informational interviews, choosing plan A&B, setting goals to move your career in the right direction).
Optional trainee activities requiring approval from primary mentor:
  1. Coursework: Therapeutic Development and Clinical Trials (PHYB 562563, 3 hrs).
  2. Teaching opportunities: provide 1-3 hr lectures on physiological and vascular system at the graduate level.
  3. Participate in T32 Trainee Symposiums as an organizer and/or presenter.
  4. Consider applying for second year T32 support.
  5. Prepare and maintain LinkedIn professional page.
What our trainees receive to support of these expectations:
  1. 1 yr salary stipend.
  2. $1400 travel stipend to present T32 study as an oral or poster presentation at a national conference.
Post-doctoral training opportunities:
Post-Doctoral trainees from the laboratories of VBST mentors are welcome to apply for a training grant position.

The VBST-TP is funded by training grant (T32 HL144459) from the National, Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).