This is a new application to support 12 graduate students in their second year of a Ph.D. Program in Genetics and Genomics (PGG) at Harvard Medical School. The goal of this program is to provide our students with comprehensive and rigorous training in genetics, including quantitative analysis of genetic and genomic data. This training comes from coursework, program activities, and dissertation research. The students have the opportunity to carry out Ph.D. research in one of several laboratories, centered around, but not exclusive to, the Department of Genetics. The laboratories of training grant faculty cover a wide range of research areas, ranging from prokaryotic gene regulation to human biology and disease. Students supported by the training grant are part of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS) program, a large umbrella program that includes six departments. However, PGG students participate in a program that is distinct from the rest of BBS students in its focus on genetics and genomics. PGG students are self-selected for the program based on their expressed interest in the program during their first year of graduate school and their choice of dissertation laboratory. Students in the program are required to concentrate their course work in genetics and genomics, including a requirement to take a course in the quantitative analysis of biological data. Our students will be guided in choosing courses and rotations by faculty advisors who are part of the PGG. PGG students will also participate in a set of programmatic activities, including (1) an annual fall symposium, (2) monthly meetings that will allow them to talk about their own research, to interact with senior students, and to interact with postdocs, including those studying clinical genetics, and (3) the opportunity to invite and host two outside seminar speakers each year. Students will be monitored for progress towards a Ph.D. by their dissertation advisory committees, which will include, in addition to the dissertation advisor, at least one PGG faculty member. Furthermore, students will write abstracts and present their work by either a poster or a talk at our annual symposium. Taken together, this training plan should provide outstanding training for our students to become highly productive independent investigators in the areas of genetics and genomics.
Many human diseases, including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease are caused by genetic factors that are inherited from one generation to the next. However, our understanding of how genetics contributes to most diseases is poor and requires further research. Our research training program will teach Ph.D. students in the most modern areas of genetics so that they can apply their knowledge to advance our understanding in the areas of human biology and disease.
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