This renewal proposal seeks continuing support for the NIH/CU Molecular Biophysics Predoctoral Training Program at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The goal of this nine-year old program is to prepare exceptional, highly motivated biophysics students for productive research careers. The thirty- seven training faculty are an outstanding, internationally recognized group of investigators from four departments: Chemistry &Biochemistry;Molecular, Cellular &Developmental Biology;Chemical &Biological Engineering;and Physics. These faculty, together with their students, are using state-of-the- art biophysical methods to elucidate fundamental aspects of macromolecular structure, dynamics, mechanism, and function in systems ranging from single molecules to complex, multi-component assemblies. Many of these projects focus on questions of direct relevance to human health and disease. Molecular Biophysics is the most rapidly growing research field on the Boulder campus. Twenty of the thirty-seven training faculty have arrived in Boulder within the last ten years. An important driving force behind this growth is the NIH/CU Molecular Biophysics Training Program, jointly supported by NIH and University funds. The training program has established a thriving biophysical community with extensive collaborations among biophysicists in different laboratories and departments. Moreover, the program provides rigorous training for predoctoral students of biophysics, ensuring that such students receive the broad, interdisciplinary foundation needed to carry out cutting edge biophysical research. Required coursework includes biophysical courses developed specifically for the program and a Responsible Conduct of Research course. Training during the first year includes coursework, laboratory rotations, and teaching duties. Training during the second year includes additional coursework and defense of the planned thesis project in an oral PhD candidacy exam. Following the second year, students meet yearly with a faculty committee that provides independent feedback on their thesis research. In all training years, regular Biophysics Seminars and Super group meetings encourage strong communication and collaboration between biophysical students, faculty, and laboratories. During the current funding period, the training program has exhibited strong progress in multiple dimensions as evidenced by 1) addition of exciting new faculty, 2) recruitment of growing numbers of high quality, eligible students to the member departments, 3) increased participation by matriculates, 4) increased participation and graduation of underrepresented groups, 5) innovations in training, 6) strong publication, graduation, and postdoctoral entrance rates of trainees, and 7) large numbers of collaborative publications between training laboratories.

Public Health Relevance

The goal of this training program is to prepare exceptional, highly motivated PhD graduates for productive research careers in the field of Molecular Biophysics. Well-trained biophysicists play essential roles in elucidating the molecular basis of human health and disease. Such researchers investigate the structures, mechanisms, and functions of crucial cellular components, thereby providing the information needed to (i) understand disease on a molecular level and (ii) design new treatments targeting diseases including cancer, diabetes, inflammation, heart disease, immune and neurological disorders.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Institutional National Research Service Award (T32)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZGM1-BRT-X (TR))
Program Officer
Flicker, Paula F
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Colorado at Boulder
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
Porter, Ely B; Polaski, Jacob T; Morck, Makenna M et al. (2017) Recurrent RNA motifs as scaffolds for genetically encodable small-molecule biosensors. Nat Chem Biol 13:295-301
Brown, Tobin E; Anseth, Kristi S (2017) Spatiotemporal hydrogel biomaterials for regenerative medicine. Chem Soc Rev 46:6532-6552
Brown, Tobin E; Marozas, Ian A; Anseth, Kristi S (2017) Amplified Photodegradation of Cell-Laden Hydrogels via an Addition-Fragmentation Chain Transfer Reaction. Adv Mater 29:
Okoniewski, Stephen R; Uyetake, Lyle; Perkins, Thomas T (2017) Force-activated DNA substrates for probing individual proteins interacting with single-stranded DNA. Nucleic Acids Res 45:10775-10782
Okoniewski, Stephen R; Carter, Ashley R; Perkins, Thomas T (2017) A Surface-Coupled Optical Trap with 1-bp Precision via Active Stabilization. Methods Mol Biol 1486:77-107
Bruni, Giancarlo N; Weekley, R Andrew; Dodd, Benjamin J T et al. (2017) Voltage-gated calcium flux mediates Escherichia coli mechanosensation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 114:9445-9450
Polaski, Jacob T; Webster, Samantha M; Johnson Jr, James E et al. (2017) Cobalamin riboswitches exhibit a broad range of ability to discriminate between methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin. J Biol Chem 292:11650-11658
Yu, Hao; Siewny, Matthew G W; Edwards, Devin T et al. (2017) Hidden dynamics in the unfolding of individual bacteriorhodopsin proteins. Science 355:945-950
Adams, Daniel J; Nemkov, Travis G; Mayer, John P et al. (2017) Identification of the primary peptide contaminant that inhibits fibrillation and toxicity in synthetic amyloid-?42. PLoS One 12:e0182804
Warner, Lisa R; Gatzeva-Topalova, Petia Z; Doerner, Pamela A et al. (2017) Flexibility in the Periplasmic Domain of BamA Is Important for Function. Structure 25:94-106

Showing the most recent 10 out of 197 publications