The objectives and rationale of the Molecular Biophysics (MB) Training Grant are to prepare highly qualified students, with outstanding quantitative and computational skills, to become a creative workforce to lead the basic biomedical research enterprise. The primary focus is on molecular biophysics, spectroscopy and imaging, computational biology and bioinformatics, areas that are major drivers of advances in biological and medical research, and in technology. The program design gives students full access to the diverse research of participating faculty in seven different degree programs (Biochemistry, Biophysics &Computational Biology, Cell &Developmental Biology, Chemistry, Chemical &Biomolecular Engineering, Molecular &Integrative Physiology, and Physics), while providing them with the supportive atmosphere of their own community. Trainees can choose their research advisor from any of the 30 faculty trainers, regardless of department or degree program. Significant features of the training program include hands-on research rotations through at least three faculty labs prior to choosing an advisor, monthly meetings with research presentations, a select curriculum including a course in cell biology specifically designed for students from a physical sciences background and a course on research ethics, and career advising, provided jointly with the Cell &Molecular Biology (CMB) and Chemistry-Biology Interface (CBl) training grants. Ten traineeship stipends are requested, generally to be provided in years 2-3. All trainees will have funds to attend professional meetings, and additional opportunities to assist in recruiting of underrepresented minorities at national student conferences. During their doctoral training (5-6 years on average), most trainees serve on the organizational committee for the Annual MB/CMB Training Grant Symposium. This is entirely run by trainees and is an important organizational experience for the committee members. The Symposium serves the whole campus community of interested students and faculty, providing a professional forum for students to present their research. Trainees also have personal contact with and responsibility for a world-renowned scientist (the keynote speaker) each year.
Quantitative skills in biology have become especially important in the molecular, cell and systems approaches underlying biomedical research. This has created a great opportunity for capturing the imagination and interest of students already well trained in quantitative methods in the physical sciences. The Molecular Biophysics Training Program at Illinois is especially well positioned to serve these students, the future leaders in quantitative biology.
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