In 2008, the School of Molecular Biosciences (SMB) at Washington State University moved from offering three PhD degrees (Biochemistry, Genetics and Cell Biology, and Microbiology) to a single interdisciplinary degree in Molecular Biosciences. Trainees, however, still choose one of three discipline-specific tracks (Biochemistry, Microbiology, or Genetics) to ensure that their interdisciplinary training in Molecular, Cellular, and Structural Biology builds on a solid, discipline-specific foundation. SMB graduate students train in the laboratories of 31 faculty with primary appointments in SMB or in the laboratories of Associate Faculty, who hold primary appointments in other departments and colleges at WSU (Sciences, Veterinary Medicine, Pharmacy, and Agriculture). All Associate Faculty have research expertise in one of the three founding disciplines and in one of four interdisciplinary areas: Molecular Basis of Reproduction, Chromatin and DNA Repair, Gene Regulation, and Infectious Disease. Distinctive features that complement and enhance our didactic and research programs include an annual retreat, weekly student seminars, weekly seminars by investigators from outside of WSU, an active student-run organization-the Molecular Biosciences Graduate Student Association, and a new Professional Development Track. Together, these unique training components promote the importance of a lifetime of scientific learning as well as emphasize the importance of interpersonal and professional communication and management skills. Since our graduate program has been following the guidelines of NIGMS training programs for the last several years, we feel it is now worthy of NIGMS T32 support. Specifically, Molecular Biosciences Training Program (MBTP) described in this application will provide the didactic and conceptual framework whereby all predoctoral students in SMB will obtain their PhD degrees at WSU. While all SMB graduate students will participate in the program only a subset of the trainees will be supported by NIH stipends. This will occur in the third year, where the most accomplished trainees will be awarded NIH-funded stipends. Thus, the NIH funded segment of our training program provides a means for highlighting and honoring outstanding performance.
Our training program arms graduate students with the necessary skills and tools to identify and solve modern biological problems at cellular, molecular, and structural levels;deepens the ability of graduate students to communicate effectively both orally and in writing;instills and promotes a life-time of scientific learning;and encourages the highest levels of professionalism and humanism.
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