The predoctoral Training Program in Biomolecular Pharmacology at Boston University, launched in 1991 to meld quantitative principles of biomedical engineering (BME) with pharmacology and experimental therapeutics, was honored in 1997 with an NIGMS T32 award. In the succeeding 19 years, this university-wide program has provided a supportive learning environment for predoctoral students. The Program includes an innovative curriculum, interdisciplinary laboratory rotations, industrial summer internships, and diverse research training opportunities that span the Medical and Charles-River campuses. Students enter via the Departments of Pharmacology or BME and more recently from the university-wide Graduate Program for Neuroscience (GPN) implemented in 2010. Program trainees in BME and GPN experience an integrated curriculum, designed to provide enriched training in pharmacology coordinated with specialized training in their primary discipline. Trainees in Pharmacology gain access to diverse research and educational experiences that build upon those provided by pharmacology faculty. The core curriculum stresses fundamental pharmacological principles including interactions of bioactive molecules, drug delivery for novel therapeutics, animal models and relevance to the clinic, and challenges for modern drug discovery. The Program, recently enhanced with an NIGMS supplement on reproducibility in research, is structured to train students in the skills of rigorous scientific research, including study design, grant application, and publication. Participating faculty, originally 21 and now 59, contribute expertise in focus areas, including neuropharmacology, vascular and cancer pharmacology, genomics and proteomics, animal models (transgenic and behavioral), structural biology, nanotechnology, systems biology and medicinal chemistry. Career guidance with oversight by faculty and student mentors, strengthened by the BU BEST Award, provides opportunities relevant to their professional goals, whether in academia, government or the private sector. Training duration averages 5.2 years, and graduates compete well for positions in various sectors. There are currently 47 students (39 TGE) in the Program, including 6 TGE from underrepresented minorities. This renewal application seeks funding for 7 trainees each year, an increase reflecting the greater demand of highly qualified candidates for pharmacology training and the expanded research opportunities of faculty participants.
The Program in Biomolecular Pharmacology at Boston University is designed to train predoctoral students in pharmacological research and discovery, combining the fundamental principles of pharmacology with novel approaches drawn from bioinformatics, biophysics, biochemistry, biomedical engineering, chemistry, genetics, molecular medicine and neuroscience. Trainees undertake an integrated curriculum that emphasizes translation of rigorous basic science research and acquisition of scientific skills for careers in academia, government or the private sector.
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