Background

Despite the tremendous success of antibiotics and vaccines, infectious diseases remain the second leading cause of death in the world and the leading cause in developing countries. As industrial antibiotic drug discovery efforts have waned, the challenge of combating new infectious disease risks has increasingly fallen on academic research laboratories. In response, efforts have begun to focus on molecular mechanisms of microbial pathogenesis with the goal of identifying and exploiting novel antibiotic drug targets. Facilitating these endeavors is the establishment of academic chemical biology programs, which provide the interdisciplinary platform needed to achieve these goals. Vanderbilt’s recent investments in its Center for Microbial Pathogenesis and Institute of Chemical Biology (VICB) provide the cutting edge resources needed to meet the new challenges of infectious disease research, placing Vanderbilt at the forefront of this important field. Consistent with these research priorities and our educational mission, this program establishes a training program to capitalize on our strengths in the Chemical Biology of Infectious Diseases (CBID) with the goal of attracting talented young people to the field and developing a new cadre of researchers prepared to address this growing threat. Our Training Plan incorporates educating graduate students in key foundational concepts and tools, and is fundamentally grounded in research. A significant new highlight of this program is that each CBID trainee will have a summer internship experience at a major pharmaceutical company that is actively engaged in antimicrobial drug discovery. 

Infectious Disease Training has a Strong History at Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt has a long tradition of outstanding infectious disease research, which spans both the School of Medicine (SOM) and the science departments in the College of Arts and Science (A&S). An exceptional level of collaboration between the SOM and A&S is facilitated by the close proximity of these institutions on the same campus, an advantage that Vanderbilt shares with few other universities in the United States. The primary sites of infectious disease research at Vanderbilt include the Divisions of Molecular Pathogenesis, Pediatric Infectious Disease, and Adult Infectious Disease within the SOM, and the Departments of Chemistry and Biological Sciences within A&S.

Vanderbilt is a Leader in Chemical Biology Training

The VICB provides comprehensive programs of research and education in chemical biology across the Vanderbilt campus. Since its inception in 2002, the Institute has established state-of-the-art core facilities, promoted frontier research, and created novel training mechanisms and courses that have catapulted Vanderbilt to the forefront of chemical biology and academic drug discovery nationally and internationally. The VICB’s 80 member laboratories, spanning both the SOM and A&S, leverage the tools of chemistry to study the biology of key players in a wide range of diseases, including neurological, cardiovascular, infectious and inflammatory diseases, cancer, and diabetes. Many of the proteins under investigation are validated or potential drug targets. The VICB provides the infrastructure needed to understand fundamental biomolecular systems, discover the molecular basis of disease pathogenesis, conduct the development of probe molecules to validate drug targets, and ultimately seed a drug discovery program. In fact, the VICB established the foundation for Vanderbilt’s highly successful programs in cancer and neuroscience drug discovery that have led to partnerships with private foundations.