The mission of the NIGMS/MIT Biotechnology Training Program is to train leaders in the field of Biotechnology, drawing primarily from the fields of Biological Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Chemistry. The American Heritage Dictionary defines Biotechnology as: "The application of the principles of engineering and technology to the life sciences;bioengineering." Information productively flows in both directions: new technologies enable the discovery of new biology, and the discovery of new biology enables new technologies. The MIT BTP encompasses research in the fields of Bioprocess Engineering, Metabolic Engineering, Tissue Engineering, Biomolecular Design, Cellular Bioengineering, BioMEMS, Systems Biology, and more. A major aim of the MIT BTP is to broaden the students'graduate training by a program that repeatedly puts them in close contact with students and faculty from other disciplines. Trainees are appointed at the end of their first year of graduate studies, and their stipend is supported by the BTP for three years, during which they complete the following requirements: i) a) two biotechnology courses outside their home department and b) one interdisciplinary course from a restricted list;ii) Monthly BTP meetings for research updates;iii) Attendance &poster presentation at an Annual Retreat, one full day in April;iv) Training in responsible conduct of research;and v) An industrial internshipof 2-3 months. At present 19 predoctoral trainees are appointed to the program at any given time, but given the strong nominee pool and only a 58% success rate for highly qualified nominations to the program, an increase in support to 22 trainees is requested. Over 200 trainees have benefited from the program during the 24 years of existence of the NIGMS/MIT BTP, and many have risen to positions of prominence in both academics and industry. We contacted selected alumni of the program to gain their perspectives on the influence the BTP had on their career development, and numerous successful individuals cite this highly interdisciplinary program and peer network as a critical formative experience. Excerpts of these comments are included in this proposal.
The NIGMS/MIT Biotechnology Training Program prepares outstanding Ph.D. candidates from science and engineering for leadership in the interdisciplinary field of Biotechnology. Biotechnology largely consists of the application of new life science technologies to improved therapeutics and diagnostics, although there are also growing efforts in the fields of energy, environment, and microelectronics. Graduates of this program over the past 24 years have had tremendous impact in both academics and the biotechnology industry.
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