The goal of the UCLA Biotechnology Training in Biomedical Science and Engineering (BTBSE) Program is to educate and to train the next generation of highly skilled scientists and engineers who will assume leadership roles in multidisciplinary biotechnology research. This goal is achieved through a cohesive 2-year training program entailing multidisciplinary research, a common curriculum composed of formal coursework in life science and engineering and of a cross-disciplinary laboratory rotation, and an industrial internship. The required coursework is comprised of a course in macromolecular synthesis and structure, a course on molecular biotechnology from an engineer's perspective, the "Biotechnology Forum" course, and a class in research ethics. Life science trainees must work in the research laboratory of an engineering mentor for at least three months;likewise the engineers spend time in the laboratory of their life science mentor. A biotechnology community is fostered principally through the monthly trainee lunch seminar series and the Annual Biotechnology Symposium, which brings together ~50 students, faculty and industry representatives and is currently in its fourth successful installment. Trainees who complete this program will be equipped to function productively in the multidisciplinary teams of bioengineers and life scientists prevalent in the industry. The interface between the life/health sciences and engineering is extraordinarily rich in its diversity, and this biotechnology program focuses broadly on molecular and cellular research. Faculty participants in the proposed BTBSE Program all mentor PhD students who conduct research focused at the molecular and cellular level, and most have established cross-disciplinary collaborations. The faculty research activities cover a broad spectrum of basic biomedical research related to biotechnology including, enzyme biocatalysis, thermostable enzymes, metabolic engineering, DNA microarray technology, nitric oxide metabolism, molecular basis of neurodegenerative disease, biosensors, tissue engineering, anaerobe microbiology, vaults (protein nanocapsules), nanobiotechnology, bioinformatics, genomics, proteomics, protein molecular evolution, and incorporation of unnatural amino acids in recombinant proteins. Such an array of research activities conducted by collaborating researchers provides an exciting menu of multidisciplinary research opportunities to trainees. Faculty participants in the proposed training program have had the opportunity to recruit from a pool of 127 eligible PhD students (including 13 underrepresented minority students) this academic year. The Director and faculty mentors are very active and successful in underrepresented minority student development and recruitment, especially from the very diverse, populous greater Los Angeles area. It is planned to grow the program over the next several years to a trainee graduation rate of 6/year (12 in training/yr). In sum, UCLA provides the talented multidisciplinary faculty, bright and diverse students, resources for research, courses, and opportunities to interact with industry that are necessary to mount a successful biotechnology training program.
This program will educate and train outstanding PhD students in the application of the principles of life science and engineering to health related problems. After earning their degrees, most former trainees are expected to assume leadership roles in the biotechnology industry, which is focused on commercialization of pharmaceuticals and other health-related products.
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