This application requests continuing support for an interdepartmental PhD training program in the area of genetics. Training is provided by a collection of 60 faculty mentors distributed between seven departments at the School of Medicine and the College of Science. The participating faculty members are a highly interactive group which has demonstrated its ability to train students and work together productively. They work together through this training program, through the campus-wide Combined Program in Molecular Biology and through a complex network of shared teaching, journal clubs and scientific collaborations. The requested training grant continuation helps support graduate student training in the area of genetics and contributes to our ability to provide students with a broad education in all areas of genetics. The training program provides cohesion for students and faculty in the areas of genetics. The program identifies outstanding students working on some aspect of genetics, and brings them into a group with other genetics students and the collective genetics faculty where a broad range of topics in current genetics research is discussed. Their research success is promoted by multiple opportunities to talk about their projects, as well as getting critical feedback about their research. A major feature of this trainig program is its yearly retreat at which the entire group of trainees is brought together with facult members and an outside speaker. At this meeting students present their ongoing work and benefit from in-depth discussion, suggestions, and critique. A series of regular presentations by both inside and outside speakers comprises a second important training activity. Finally, each student presents at a monthly trainee meeting, and these meetings have been successful for students to develop skills in both presentation and in asking questions. These meetings have also fostered communication and experimental collaboration between the trainees. Trainee selection is based primarily on demonstrated excellence. In addition, effort is made to represent the entire breadth of genetics research underway at the University of Utah. One of the outstanding traditions of Utah's genetics program has been its breadth, and we promote interaction between those using mechanistic and population-based research genetic approaches. Trainees are selected from the pool of graduate students recruited and given formal course work by a Campus-wide Combined Molecular Biology Program. This program advertises our general graduate program, screens applicants and teaches a set of courses required by all students in the program. Students admitted through this program spend their first year doing course work and four lab rotations after which they choose a thesis advisor and become administratively associated with that advisor's department. Only after starting their thesis research and passing their qualifying examination are they eligible to apply for training grant support.
Genetic anomalies underlie many human diseases, including birth defects and cancer, and proper expression of gene expression programs are required for human development. This Training Program in Genetics will train Ph.D. students to become independent scientists who can use their skills in genetics towards research questions that affect human health.
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