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T32 PIRE Overview

The Program in Immunology Research and Entrepreneurship (PIRE) trains postdoctoral fellows in immunology with an emphasis on translation, biomedical innovation, and entrepreneurship. The program seeks to address the need to empower our future immunology research workforce with the competence necessary to commercialize scientific discoveries. Disease-related themes that are central to this program are innate immune mechanisms, immunity to infection, alloimmunity (organ and hematopoietic stem cell transplant), autoimmunity, and cancer immunity. The Program Mentor Faculty consist of an interdisciplinary group of about 14 investigators with established training records who are committed to research and research training of postdoctoral trainees within the area of inflammation and immunity.

The core training for PIRE fellows is the research experience in the laboratory setting complemented by specialized training in entrepreneurship, using the following components:

  • Mentoring through the engagement of an Individual Development Plan for Entrepreneurship (IDPE) Committee;
  • Laboratory training;
  • Didactic training in biomedical commercialization and entrepreneurship;
  • Experiential training by conducting an internship with MUSC’s technology transfer office;
  • Participation in activities (seminar series, journal club, scientific retreat) sponsored by the Department of Microbiology and Immunology;
  • Instruction in the responsible conduct of research;
  • Instruction in methods for enhancing reproducibility; and
  • Use of a virtual “trainee career toolkit” that includes grantsmanship, teaching and career planning.

A goal of the Program is to recruit women and minority postdoctoral trainees to address significant disparities in entrepreneurial participation as well as biomedical and immunology research.

Institutional Context of the Training Program

The Medical University of South Carolina is a free-standing academic health sciences center composed of six colleges (Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, and Dental Medicine). It is the state’s largest medical complex with greater than 13,000 employees, a teaching faculty numbering ~1,500 full-time members, and extramural research funding exceeding $250 million/yr with over $100 million/yr from the NIH. MUSC has undergone a remarkable expansion over the past 10 years and has developed into a first class Health care and research environment, with major construction and renovation in recent years totaling greater than 1,000,000 sq. ft. of space.