The Predoctoral Training Program in Genetics at the University of Iowa has a 40-year history during which more than 80 students have graduated with a Ph.D. The program currently serves 67 faculty and 44 students in four colleges and 18 academic departments across our campus. Since the time of the last competitive submission of this application, our interdisciplinary faculty has grown by 12 with an average of 8 new students entering the program each year. We have an enviable record of student retention, on-time graduation rates, publications and awards, as well as career advancement to postdoctoral fellowships and faculty positions at research-intensive universities. Of particular note is the central role that our program has played in building graduate programs in comparative genomics and bioinformatics on campus. We have seen growth and solidification of the nascent Computational Genetics subtrack option in the Genetics Ph.D., with now seven students that have already graduated from the track, four of which are already in faculty positions. We have made recent progress in diversifying our student population, and incorporated several strategies to build on a nucleus of minority students, as well as to enhance the retention of these and indeed all students in the program. In this renewal application we request a continuation of the six fellowship slots we currently have available to serve our cadre of high quality and productive students. This application will outline our successes over the last 40 years of program existence, our current structure, and plans for future improvements in diversity, graduation times and mentoring. We have a cohesive group of students working with a broad and diverse collection of faculty who represent the genetics community in all its facets. Finally we have stable program leadership at both the faculty and administrative level and very strong support within the graduate college that helps to ensure not only the continued success of the program but its further strengthening and diversification at a time when scientific careers are proving increasingly challenging.
The purpose of the Predoctoral Training Program in Genetics is to optimally prepare students, in the process of achieving the Ph.D., for meeting and leading the ongoing and upcoming trends in Genetics research. Our mission for society is to generate scientists that can be at the forefront of Genetics research, who can in turn contribute to trainin and collaborating with physicians and other allied health professionals, and who can educate all members of society that will increasingly need to understand genetic aspects of their own family's health care and individualized genomes. Because this need is among people from all walks of life, we emphasize diversity in our Ph.D. students. With the pervasive implications of the individualized genome, including both the promises and the dangers of exploiting the information therein, the need to train competent Ph.D. students is paramount.
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