This proposal aims to secure training grant stipends and associated support for students during their first two years in the UCSF/UC Berkeley Graduate Program in Bioengineering. Over the past 31 years, the program in bioengineering has graduated a total of 357 Ph.D students. This support is the backbone for the unique UCSF/UC Berkeley structure, which requires that students have financial support during their first two years. These initial two years of preparation include intensive course work in engineering and the biomedical sciences, as well as three laboratory rotations, are essential to the students in selecting appropriate dissertation research topics. In later year the students receive financial support through their research mentor. The UCSF/UC Berkeley Program in Bioengineering bridges two leading University of California campuses that possess complementary strengths: UCSF is a leading Health Sciences institution and UC Berkeley?s Engineering School is a national leader in the physical sciences. The breadth and depth of the training environment offered to students is of an order larger than a single department could provide. Our faculty are based in 22 departments over two campuses and their laboratories include an array of state-of-the art facilities. An academic and intellectual environment fosters seamless interaction between physical and life sciences and that trains students to solve complex biological problems with an emphasis on translational research is in high demand. The UCSF/UC Berkeley Graduate Program in Bioengineering has an established record of such integration, and the breadth of opportunity for collaboration is one of the reasons that the program is structured to have students spend two years concentrating on a variety of laboratory rotations and course work prior to committing to their dissertation project. With the recent expansion of Bioengineering research and educational programs at UCSF and UC Berkeley, the capacity for training graduate students has increased and the size of the student body has grown to 176. This training grant is a critical component of the support package that students are offered, and it has therefore become increasingly important for ensuring that they flourish in the present competitive environment. Because qualified applicants far exceed the number of students that can be admitted into the program, we are requesting an increase in the number of slots during the next funding cycle from the current recommended level of 17 students. The unique ability for bioengineers to integrate principles from diverse fields and thereby span the gap between advances in basic science and clinical utilization places individuals trained in this field at a critical point in advancing a translational research agenda that has been recently highlighted by new organizations within the NIH.
The health and life sciences are in the midst of a profound revolution due to new technology and quantitative approaches developed in the disciplines of chemistry, biology, physics and engineering. These advances, along with the aging of the population and the focus on health issues, will increase the demand for better medical devices, diagnostics, and therapeutic modalities. The UCSF/UC Berkeley Graduate Program in Bioengineering is making a significant contribution to meeting these societal needs by training the next generation of bioengineers.
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