Chemical biology has grown explosively as a research field in the last decade. It is internationally recognized as a key interdisciplinary field, and a top research direction for a generation of bright undergraduates. Harvard offers an extraordinary range of training opportunities in chemical biology. Faculty members at Harvard's Cambridge campus including those in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology (CCB) offer world- class expertise in the disciplines spanning organic chemistry and the molecular life sciences, while faculty members at the Harvard Medical School (HMS) offer outstanding strengths at the interface between the molecular life sciences and biomedical problems. In addition, the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT is a leader in the development of technology to exploit the uses of genomic information, including chemical technologies. The chemical biology community at Harvard is thus strong, diverse, and far-reaching, with vibrant links to medicine, human biology, and genomics technologies. This application requests support for the Harvard Chemical Biology Program (CBP), a successful collaborative program (now in its 5th year) between Harvard's Cambridge campus and the Harvard Medical School that offers students free access to the full range of opportunities in chemical biology research across the University. The Program is unusual in the scale of its effort to merge chemistry with cutting edge biology. The curriculum emphasizes the use of chemical approaches to address biological questions. Required courses provide core training in kinetics and thermodynamics as well as chemical structure and reactivity in the context of biology. A unifying theme of first year coursework and discussions is the role of chemical tools and approaches in dissecting biological pathways. Students are exposed to biological questions from the beginning, in coursework as well as in interactions with faculty, and are encouraged to identify biological problems that can be addressed using chemical approaches or where chemical expertise will give key insight. The proposed research program offers the opportunity for students to interact with world-class biologists and chemists, and to develop their own perspective on how to attack the problems that attract them - by using existing technologies (most of which are readily available) or by developing their own innovative approaches.
Chemical biology is a key area of training relevant to modern drug discovery and to understanding the chemistry and biology underlying human disease. This program aims to offer students access to a wide range of training and research opportunities in the broader Harvard community, coupled with a carefully designed core curriculum at the chemistry-biology interface. Support for the proposed training program is therefore consistent with the mission of the NIH.
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