This is the fourth competing renewal of the sole training grant supporting an interdepartmental graduate Program in Cell and Molecular Biology (CMB Program) at Baylor College of Medicine. The mission of the CMB Program is to train a new generation of PhD scientists who will become independent investigators and future leaders of interdisciplinary cell and molecular biology research to improve human health. The CMB Program was founded on a commitment to excellence in research, with strict guidelines for both student and faculty participation. The Program involves over 90 faculty from eight basic science departments, and four clinical departments, providing a dynamic mix of established investigators and newly recruited young faculty. Thus, our students can select from a wide spectrum of exciting research possibilities. During the 20 years of funding, 179 students have entered the program. PhD degrees have been awarded to 79 students, 13 received Master's degrees, 29 withdrew or transferred, and 58 students are currently enrolled. We have been very successful in attracting students of high caliber to the College, through active recruitment mechanisms. As a consequence, the entering class size over the past eight years has been 9 to 12 students per year. The CMB Program emphasizes a rigorous graduate education program, and provides intensive mentoring through all stages of CMB graduate training. Correspondingly, the research productivity of our students has been exceptional, as measured by both the number and quality of CMB student-authored publications. The 28 students who graduated from the Program between 2005 and the present have published, on average, four papers resulting from their thesis research, including two first author papers, with an average impact factor of 9.22 per publication. An additional notable achievement during the last funding period has been our continued success in both recruiting, and retaining, underrepresented minority (URM) students, with 18 URM students (31%) currently enrolled in the program. In addition, our current URM CMB students include some of the top students in the College with regard to academic achievements. During the previous training period, 10 predoctorai positions were funded through this award. We are requesting an increase to 12 funded positions in the current renewal, which should maintain an enrolled student body of ~60 students, an optimal size for scientific interactions and mentoring by Program faculty.
Human health and the development of more effective approaches to treat human disease are major goals of our society. The CMB Training Program will train the next generation of PhD scientists to become leaders in the fight against human disease through cell and molecular biology research.
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