The NIGMS/MIT Biotechnology Training Program (BTP) has operated since 1989 to train Ph.D. scientists and engineers at the interface between biology and technology. Initially focused on the production of protein biopharmaceuticals, the BTP's scope has expanded along with the generally accepted meaning of the term Biotechnology. In addition to bioprocess development, Biotechnology now includes discovery activities aimed at understanding disease processes and designing new drugs. BTP training faculty are actively engaged in a broad spectrum of biotechnology research - for example, bioinformatics, tissue engineering, biomolecular design, toxicology, and glycomics. For the purposes of the BTP, Biotechnology can be distinguished from basic life science research both for its applied, goal-oriented flavor, and a quantitative, engineering approach to utilizing and developing new technologies. 19 BTP trainees are currently supported by the BTP, and each serves a 3-year tenure in the program, commencing in the 2nd year of their Ph.D. graduate studies. Trainees are primarily drawn from the graduate programs of the departments of Biological Engineering, Chemistry, and Chemical Engineering. To meet the goals of the BTP, interdisciplinary training is provided in the form of a 2-3 month off-site industrial internship, cross-departmental coursework, a Meet-the-Lab seminar series, an annual BTP retreat, once- per-semester pizza luncheons, and training in the responsible conduct of research. Complete information on the operation and activities of the BTP are made available to all trainees at http://web.mit.edu/bpec/biotech/. BTP alumni have achieved noteworthy successes in the Biotechnology industry as well as in faculty positions. Appointment to the BTP is extremely competitive, with only a 53% success rate for nominations. We are therefore requesting an increase in support to 22 positions, to provide this cross-disciplinary training to a greater number of these deserving candidates.
This Biotechnology Training Program provides a unique and valuable interdisciplinary training experience in Biotechnology for Ph.D. life scientists and engineers, preparing them to contribute to the Biotechnology industry that is the primary engine of innovation in developing new drugs and therapeutic technologies.
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