The goals of the UCSC Graduate Training Program in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology are to recruit highly motivated graduate students, provide them with critical thinking skills, expertise in experimental design and interpretation, an a strong framework of knowledge, while also amplifying their passion for inquiry and discovery. We strongly encourage interdisciplinary and collaborative research that crosses departmental, divisional, and even institutional boundaries. Intellectual, cultural, and socioeconomic diversity are prevalent in our graduate student population, and we constantly seek new approaches to attract and inspire students from under-represented groups. Our Training Program prepares students to pursue diverse careers in biomedical research, teaching, government, and industry. First-year trainees participate in three 6-week research rotations and in a core curriculum designed to train them in the logic of experimental analysis. Students learn how to evaluate published research, effectively argue scientific points, formulate hypotheses, design rigorous experiments, and write research manuscripts and proposals with intellectual depth. Students join a laboratory to pursue their Ph.D. thesis research in Spring of their first year. Second-year students train in the responsible conduct of research and take an oral qualifying exam. Third-year students present a full research seminar to the Training Program. Students at all stages participate in departmental seminars, research meetings, and journal clubs, and take advanced elective courses of their choosing. These broaden their training experience and promote interactions among trainees and faculty. Training culminates with a written Ph.D. dissertation and oral defense. Our Training Program includes 30 faculty from 5 departments, including the Departments of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, Biomolecular Engineering, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology, and Physics. Participating laboratories are intermingled in 3 adjacent buildings on "science hill", which encourages interaction and collaboration. Research in the Training Program utilizes a wide variety of approaches, and is organized with interdisciplinary clusters of common interests (e.g. Cell Biology, Chromatin, Neurobiology, and RNA), thereby creating critical masses of researchers that foster mutual support and scientific creativity. Many training faculty work on systems that are directly relevant to human health, including stem cell biology, malaria, cholera, cancer biology, host-pathogen interactions, neurodegenerative diseases, and the responses of neurons to stroke and other damage. Other faculty carry out basic research that provides the foundation for understanding topics relevant to human health, including cell division, signaling, meiosis, chromatin organization, cell differentiation, and neurobiology. Our Training Grant, currently in its 14th year, supports 6 trainees. In this renewal, we are requesting support for 8 trainees. Training Grant positions will continue to be awarded to our most promising students.
Our Training Program offers students cutting-edge and interdisciplinary training in systems and approaches highly relevant to human health, such as stem cell biology, cancer biology, and neurodegenerative diseases. Basic research on such processes as cell division, signaling, and neurobiology also contributes to building the foundation of knowledge needed to understand development and disease.
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