The MinnCResT Program's faculty mentors represent over 30 disciplines, ranging from Neuroscience to Oral Biology to Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology & Genetics.
Faculty mentors work with MinnCResT fellows throughout their training. Fellows work in their mentors' labs but are paid through the MinnCResT Program. The mentor and fellow submit an annual report describing training experiences and interdisciplinary elements, research progress, and performance. All reports and trainee programs are reviewed and approved by the Steering Committee to ensure compliance with the program's mission. The Steering Committee consists of the faculty mentors of all current MinnCResT fellows, plus the program directors and staff.
To build community, mentor faculty are invited to MinnCResT monthly seminars and annual research symposia to present, listen, and be acknowledged. Our mentors appreciate the several opportunities that our program provides for fellows and themselves. From this perspective, mentors are also heavily involved in the review of applications and on-campus interviews of candidate fellows. Indeed, they often nominate their own candidates for positions in the program and also request to mentor other prospects.
Research Training Areas
In the MinnCResT Program, the mentor faculty members are assembled into research training areas (RTAs) to highlight disciplinary and interdisciplinary research strengths offered as training opportunities. The RTAs reflect current research activities of interest and are independent of departmental or graduate faculty affiliations; some mentors are members of more than one RTA. Mentors in the RTAs are also members of graduate faculties across the University. MinnCResT Program fellows can take PhD degrees in one of 30 disciplines, including Oral Biology.
Mentors in this group focus on cell biology and metastasis, cancer genetics, and tumor immunology, and complement activities in the Microbiology and Immunology Mentor Group. Cancer Biology mentors generally hold appointments on the graduate faculty in Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology and in Oral Biology. Mentors study cell biology and metastasis, biochemical signaling pathways, cancer genetics, and tumor immunology. Mentors also focus on the development of new cancer therapies, including developing new inhibitors of angiogenesis, improving immune-based therapies, and studying novel compounds that can inhibit growth and/or survival of malignant tumors. Our Cancer Biology RTA complements activities in the Microbiology and Immunology RTA.
Developmental Biology, Molecular Genetics & Stem Cells
The training potential for Developmental Biology and Genetics at the University of Minnesota is extensive. Mentor laboratories perform experiments using most major model organisms, including mice, zebrafish, frogs, chickens, flies, and worms. Mentors in this area include those interested in:
- craniofacial development
- endothelial cells and vascular development
- cell signaling
- T cell biology
- cancer and development
- gene therapy
- stem cell biology
Collaboration with the Department of Pediatrics, the Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Anomalies clinic, and the Institute of Human Genetics extends this connection for the direct study of the genetic basis of human developmental defects. This large community of scientists crosses departmental boundaries and campuses, and is connected internally through the Developmental Biology Center. Training in Developmental Genetics is additionally enhanced by strong connections to the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development and Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics and several graduate programs. Several mentors in this training area are affiliated with the University’s Stem Cell Institute, which was established in 1999 as the world’s first interdisciplinary institute dedicated to stem cell research. These mentors study how stem cells can be used to treat human diseases, including diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.
Genomics, Proteomics, Structural Biology & Computational Biology
These are the cross-disciplinary training areas. Mentors in this research training area work in microbiology, biochemistry, chemistry, chemical engineering, and laboratory medicine/pathology, and use biophysical and computational approaches to foster research in microbial pathogenomics, obesity and insulin action, RNA-protein interactions, membrane and membrane-binding proteins, coagulation, enzymology, protein engineering, vaccine development/delivery, cancer biology, protein and peptide chemistry, cell adhesion, and bioinformatics. This research training area also includes mentors working in biophysical sciences, including molecular biophysics, medical imaging, magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy, radiobiology, radiation physics, and mathematical biophysics and computation.
Microbiology & Immunology
Mentors in the Microbiology and Immunology Group are generally members of the graduate faculty in Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology; Molecular, Cell, Developmental Biology and Genetics; and/or Oral Biology. Mentor faculty in the Microbiology and Immunology Group study and offer research training opportunities in genetic engineering of microorganisms for biotechnology; viral, fungal and bacterial pathogenesis; and environmental sensing and development in microbes; as well as lymphocyte activation and development; transplantation immunology; and autoimmunity, superantigens and the mucosal immune system. Much of the more fundamental work in this RTA complements activities in the Cancer Biology RTA.
Nanotechnology, Materials Sciences & Tissue Engineering
The University is a national leader in nanotechnology, and among the first institutions nationwide to promote collaborative research in nanotechnology by bringing together faculty from diverse disciplines.
In 2004, the University established the Nanotechnology Coordinating Office to support interdisciplinary collaborations in nanotechnology research and to promote communication about nanotechnology both within the University and to the business community. The nanotechnology research community at the University is very active, supported in part by short courses, workshops, and laboratories providing specialized support services. In 2006, the trade publication Small Times ranked the University second among U.S. universities in industrial outreach in nanotechnology and microtechnology and ninth in nanotechnology research.
Mentors in this research training area come from the fields of electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, chemistry, and medicinal chemistry, and study electronic circuitry, advanced light sources, nanoparticle generation in plasmas, particle technology, polymer chemistry, nanofabrication of integrated circuits, drug design and delivery, biomedical sensors, microelectronics, biomaterials, cell adhesion molecules, cell motility and adhesion receptor function, tissue remodeling and artificial tissues, tissue preservation, extracellular matrix specificity, biomedical microsystems and devices, and biomedical imaging.
The neuroscience mentors have a wide range of interests and expertise, studying the structure, function, and development of the nervous system in health and disease, with particular strength in the biology of pain. Many different experimental approaches are in use. Mentors in this RTA work in areas as diverse as the neurobiology of addictive diseases, cerebrovascular diseases, behavioral and cognitive neuroscience, endocrine and autonomic regulation, ion channels, motor control, neurodegenerative diseases and regeneration, neurogenetics, neuroimaging, and pain. They hold graduate faculty appointments in Neuroscience and Oral Biology. The Department of Neuroscience is also home to one of the University's premium media resource services, the Biomedical Image Processing Lab (BIPL).