This new application seeks support for the Predoctoral Training Program in Bioinformatics/Computational Biology at Boston University. The Bioinformatics Program aims to prepare top researchers for careers in the molecular life sciences who will support the advances now underway in modern medicine. Based largely on the framework of the human genome sequence, these advances depend upon a battery of high-throughput techniques that generate enormous quantities of data that in turn reflect the complexities of biological networks. Full exploitation of this information requires computation-based, interdisciplinary efforts. The Program will inculcate the skills required in this new environment, including (a) an understanding of basic biological systems, (b) facility with computational methods and statistics, especially for network analysis, and (c) the ability to interact and communicate with colleagues from diverse disciplines. The curriculum includes a strong foundation in computational methods and database development, along with in-depth discussions of relevant biological systems. Program features include (1) an annual International Workshop in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology, a joint undertaking of computational biology graduate training programs in Boston, Kyoto/Tokyo, and Berlin;(2) the Challenge Project, which offers teams of first-year trainees the opportunity to do original research on large-scale problems;(3) the Wet-Lab Experience, which introduces new trainees to state-of-the-art experimental methods in the summer before they officially enter the program;(4) the annual Student-Organized Symposium;and (5) three 9-week rotations. A distinguished training faculty of 31 members is drawn from 15 departments in five schools and colleges at Boston University. Areas of research include genomics, biological networks, statistical methods in bioinformatics, evolutionary genomics, metabolomics, and structural biology and bioinformatics. Several mentors are engaged in translational application of bioinformatics. Co-advising of trainees, by computational and experimental mentors, is strongly encouraged. Students play a large role in defining their research projects. 62 trainees currently are working towards the Ph.D. Six Predoctoral training slots per year are requested, which will support trainees for the first year o residence.
Students completing this program have already played vital roles in the acquisition and analysis of data vital to the diagnosis and treatment of infections, cancer and hereditary diseases, as well as in designing and producing new drugs and therapies. Their understanding of biological networks will enable them to help medical researchers cope with complex diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and neurological dysfunctions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.