This proposal is for continuing support of the pre-doctoral training grant to the Department of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). This training grant (coming up on year 34) continues to be the most important source of support for graduate students studying biological science at MIT. The mission of this Graduate Program is to train the next generation of biological/biomedical scientists, many of whom will be innovators and leaders in research and education. Specifically, in this training program we strive to educate our students: to deeply understand the fundamental underlying principles of modern biology including genetics, biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology and quantitative data analysis;to be ethical decision makers;to face the rapidly changing modern scientific landscape;to become creative, effective, rigorous researchers;and to become excellent teachers and mentors of younger students. We seek out, recruit and train excellent students from majority, underrepresented minority, and disadvantaged populations, and help them initiate successful research careers. A key feature of our training program is an intensive, focused curriculum required of all first semester students. During this semester, students work together in courses taught by dedicated faculty in lecture and discussion-style to master a fundamental toolbox of approaches that are the underpinning of all modern molecular biological science. New features of the program include a required course in quantitative and computational biology and a writing tutorial on the preparation of research proposals. The training program ensures that students are exposed to all research groups in the Department before choosing their three lab rotations, ensuring that they are well prepared to make the critical choice of a thesis lab. Responsible conduct in research is taught in three phases, including an intense mini-course for 2nd year students. The progress and completion of thesis research is carefully monitored by regular thesis committees meetings and by the Graduate Committee. Our students perform research of outstanding quality and most students go on to careers in biomedical research. Many of our former trainees are now leaders in their chosen fields.
Key to Combating the complex problems plaguing human health are scientists rigorously trained in the fundamental aspects of molecular and cellular biology, in ethical and humane decision-making, and exposed to the problems of modern medicine. Our program strives for excellence in all these areas. Our program is the major source of graduate students to the Koch Institute of Integrative Cancer Research and many other laboratories whose research has a direct impact on human health and disease.
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