“The T32 postdoctoral training program at Rutgers University has provided incredible opportunities for me as a young physician-scientist, in cross-training with access to new technical skills, and novel experiences in disciplines such as advanced chemical engineering. The program has deepened my knowledge of stem cell biology through online coursework, and provided exposure to applications of medical technology development across a broad range of clinical specialties. The access provided to a young trainee to senior faculty and multiple mentorships is unprecedented in my experience, and has led to collaborations across labs, institutions, and disciplines that I know will define my career … As my career moves deeper into translational regenerative medicine, what I have learned about industry and government relationships will be critical. I highly value these experiences through the T32 Program, and have developed a scientific network of mentors and peer colleagues that I will continue to work with for years to come.”
Nicolas N. Madigan, M.B., B.Ch., B.A.O., Ph.D
Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic.
“Although I had a strong foundation in organic and bioorganic chemistry and had the confidence that I could start my independent academic career I was unable to find the opportunity to do so. My time at NJCBM provided four critical aspects that enabled me to obtain the opportunity to lead an academic research lab. These were i) training in an emerging and dynamic research field ii) the day to day opportunity to interact with scientists (students, postdocs, research staff, faculty, industrial scientists) from very diverse backgrounds and hence gain the perspective of important problems from different fields iii) the skills to communicate the importance of what one is doing to people from different backgrounds and iv) the visibility and networking opportunity that came with being a part of NJCBM.
The T32 training program was set up such that the participants were exposed to training in various fields. I was trained in traditional organic chemistry and the T32 program provided me training complementary to my PhD work. I obtained formal and informal training in cell biology and exposure to the challenges of translating discoveries from bench to bedside. The training program also gave me the exposure to several opportunities such as a course in embryonic stem cells which provided laboratory experience in these techniques.
When I started my independent faculty career, there were certain aspects of the NJCBM T32 program that I carried with me. One was the desire to create novel materials to address critical needs in biomedical science. The second was to do research that has a meaningful chance to reach the clinic – even if that timeline is long. It has been 5 years now since I started my current position and I can unequivocally state that my time at NJCBM in the T32 program has been critical in developing an interdisciplinary research program designing materials while keeping in mind the design criteria of the end application. There are numerous scientists trained in traditional areas such as chemistry, engineering and biology. However there are much fewer programs such as the NJCBM T32 program that bring scientists from all these programs enabling the cross-fertilization of ideas from different disciplines. Such programs are incredibly important in an era where traditional boundaries between research fields are melting away and important discoveries come from working together in interdisciplinary sciences.”
Abraham Joy, PhD
Assoc. Prof. of Polymer Science, Univ. Akron
“My T32 training gave me access to many new skills which complemented my PhD training in biomedical engineering (biomaterials/tissue engineering). I gained valuable experience working with induced pluripotent stem cells and iPS cell derived neurons, cellular reprogramming, electrospinning and fibrous scaffold fabrication, and performing in vivo work. I previously had very little experience with stem cells in theory or in practice, and the online RENEW stem cell biology course was a wonderful complement to my hands on laboratory training. This training contributed greatly to deepening my understanding of cell-biomaterial interactions, and contributed to our successful use of biomaterials to improve the survival and growth of cells in vitro and in vivo for regenerative medicine purposes. I also gained experience with grant writing, participating in writing a successful NIH R21 grant which was awarded to our group in 2015. I greatly enjoyed having access to multi-disciplinary faculty and multiple mentors through the T32 program. Having the opportunity to gain insight from faculty with varying backgrounds enhanced my scientific intellectual development and increased my understanding of medical technology development, particularly with regards to stem cells and the use of vehicles for cell/stem cell transplantation. I found that the T32 program fostered a great sense of collaboration across different labs, institutions and disciplines.”
Nicola Francis, Ph.D.
Research Associate, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Rutgers University
“The T32 program honed both sides of my educational background, including my VMD and PhD. The program strengthened my veterinary training by extending my clinical skills to species for which I had limited clinical experience (traditional laboratory animals such as mice, rats, and rabbits). Throughout the two and a half years I participated in the program I was handling, treating, performing surgeries, and providing post-operative care to these animals. This broadened my repertoire as a clinical veterinarian and also provided perspective regarding the significant differences between companion animal practice and the research animal field.
The T32 program augmented my previous research experience including study design and administration (writing and submitting IACUC protocols, planning large studies) and data collection and processing; I also acquired new bench skills such as cell and tissue culture. Working as a post-doctoral fellow collaborating with established researchers of various backgrounds afforded me with the skills required to confidently transition from a graduate student to a principal investor. I also gained valuable experience preparing scientific manuscripts and grant writing; all of which are vital to being successful in the highly competitive research climate of the twenty-first century.”
Jack Hershey, VMD, PhD
Chief Clinical Veterinarian, Comparative Medicine Resources; Adjunct Assistant Professor, Cell Biology and Neuroscience; Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
“As a former trainee, I have been extremely appreciative for the opportunity to work with numerous mentors on developing a personal scientific network. I have been impressed by the program’s unique mission to transform the learning ecosystem traditionally confined to a single committed institution and improve the health care and quality of life through cross-institutional collaboration. The program complemented my PhD training in engineering and biology by introducing to me the groundbreaking research in biomaterials and tissue engineering. T32 Training without Borders has harnessed my interpersonal and teamwork skills, and has ignited an ambition to fulfill my leadership potential. It hugely improved my understanding of medical technology development and taught me the basic skills of navigating the realm of FDA-imposed regulatory measures. That knowledge has been invaluable at the position that I assumed as a director of development and engineering in an innovative medical diagnostics company. I have been honored to be a member of an extraordinary community which gathers the best experts from academia, government and industry.”
Aleksandar Marinković, Sc.D.
Principal R&D Engineer, GYN Health, Surgical Innovations, Medtronic
“During my tenure as a T32 Fellow, my projects focused on the research and development of biodegradable medical devices. I also received training on material characterization, and in vitro/ in vivo methods. The skills I obtained from the projects and training were critical in my transition to the medical device industry, as it laid down the foundation for my knowledge of preclinical testing of devices. In addition to developing and strengthening my scientific expertise, I was also able to develop my soft skills, specifically how to effectively work in teams. During my tenure, all of the projects I was a part of involved working in teams. The team members were from both academia and industry, and included various levels of expertise (professors, graduate students, senior engineers, etc.). These interactions proved to be extremely beneficial, as my role in industry requires me to possess soft skills in order to move projects forward.”
Ophir Ortiz, PhD
Associate Director of External Scientific Affairs, CytoSorbents Corp.