The goals of the Predoctoral Training Program in Genetics and Development are: to provide a solid and broad education in genetics, including molecular genetics, developmental genetics, and human genetics;to provide rigorous training in research;to develop a scholarly, professional attitude in the trainees. The program emphasizes experimental skills and critical thinking, as well as written and oral presentation of ideas and research findings. We take care to teach our students a rigorous scientific approach in the design of experiments and evaluation of data, and to maintain the highest ethical standards in their work. We encourage students to give and receive constructive criticism and challenge them to be self- critical in order to become capable, independent scholars. A Training Committee oversees administration of the program and monitors student progress through regular meetings and written reports of rotations, qualifying exams and thesis research advisory committees. There are currently 37 trainees.
We aim to recruit 6-8 new trainees each year. The duration of training is typically 6-6.5 years. Training consists of two years of didactic course work in prokaryotic and eukaryotic molecular genetics, biochemistry, developmental genetics, statistics, genetic approaches to biomedical problems, and responsible conduct in research. Three research rotations are done in the first year followed by research in a laboratory of choice. Students have a wide range of research opportunities across the entire Columbia University Medical Center Campus. A two-part qualifying examination in the second and third years takes the form of a research proposal that is defended in a written and oral examination, followed approximately 6 months later by a progress report, similarly defended in a written and oral examination. Students run their own internal seminar program and also participate in the regular departmental seminar series by inviting outside speakers. There is an annual retreat where all trainees are expected to present their work either as a platform presentation or a poster. During the course of training there are milestones at which the MA and MPhil degrees are awarded. With the successful defense of a research thesis, the PhD degree is awarded.
The program goal is to train the next generation of biomedical researchers in areas of genetics and development with special reference to genetic influences on human health, development and disease. The research training includes a variety of basic and diseases-related areas with genetic components including cancer, diabetes, congenital defects, and heart and kidney disease.
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