This proposal requests renewal funding for the Biotechnology Predoctoral Training Program at Northwestern University, which supports a series of core activities for training a select group of students, yet also serves to nucleate the biotechnology community and provides numerous training opportunities. This interdisciplinary and interdepartmental Program draws students from five participating units: the Departments of Biological &Chemical Engineering (ChBE), Biomedical Engineering (BME), Material Sciences &Engineering (MSE), Chemistry (Chem), and the Interdepartmental Biological Sciences (IBiS) graduate program. Research opportunities, chosen from among a selection of laboratories in the life sciences, are complemented by a core interdisciplinary curriculum. Instruction in the responsible conduct of research is carried out primarily through the course, Ethics in Biological Research. Three- to 6-month industrial internships expose trainees to the industrial environment of modern biotechnology. All trainees and many preceptors participate in the IBiS, 2- day, off-campus annual retreat, which allows extensive interactions among students and faculty from many disciplines and increases the cohesiveness of the trainee group. The Biotechnology Research in Progress Meetings occur monthly and is the forum where trainees and faculty present and discuss their research results and interact with other trainees. Trainees organize and host a Biotechnology Seminar Series that bring industrial and academic scientists to campus for discussions with trainees. Additionally, the trainees organize a Biotechnology Practicum and Biotechnology Day. The practicum provides hands-on training in current and emerging biotechnologies, whereas Biotechnology Day introduces trainees and broader biotechnology community to numerous representatives from industry, who can answer questions and discuss their career paths and strategies for navigating the opportunities and challenges in industry. An Individual Development Plan is one component of several available professional development options that are available to the trainees. Trainees are recruited by the Program through extensive advertising in the Seminar Series, email announcements, brochures, and web pages. Intensive efforts are made to recurit student from underrepresented groups, and have been quite successful with 25% of trainees from the past 4 years from underrepresented groups. The Steering Committee has been effective in selecting trainees from all participating departments, and distributing the trainees among the available preceptors. Importantly, Northwestern University is providing significant resources to the program. The Graduate School provides 5 additional 1-year training slots along with tuition supplements, and the McCormick School of Engineering and the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering contribute stipend supplements, administrative support, and operating funds. Based on the size of quality of the student pool interested in biotechnology, we have requested an increase from 6 to 8 funded positions.
The Biotechnology Training Program at Northwestern University supports a series of core activities for training a select group of students, yet these activities have also served to nucleate the biotechnology community and provides numerous training opportunities. The program stresses the interdisciplinary nature of biotechnology training through course work, research, industrial internships, seminars and other opportunities that broaden the students'training in and understanding of modern biotechnology. The diverse training activities provided by the program includes events such as the Biotechnology Seminar Series, Biotechnology Practicum, Biotechnology Day, along with a number of Professional Development Opportunities.
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