In biomedical research fields, information now accumulates at a much faster rate than the paradigms and methods of classic research disciplines can effectively utilize. It is clear that discipline-specific expertise can no longer sustain adequate research progress. Emerging scientists, regardless of their breadth of training, must also be trained to work in research teams so that they can continually take advantage of new methods and concepts throughout their career. The proposed Advanced Multidisciplinary Training Program for Systems Biology is designed to prime researchers to tackle complex mechanisms of human disease utilizing cross- disciplinary approaches. There are two ways to cross disciplines. A multidisciplinary approach is team-building: experts from diverse disciplines applying their unique perspectives to address collectively a problem. In contrast, an interdisciplinary approach is when a single person applies knowledge that melds two or more traditional disciplines to solve a problem. New interdisciplinary fields (and investigators) have always been created by close multidisciplinary collaboration, and our program is designed to enforce such collaborations as an essential element of graduate training. Such comprehensive training requires a program specifically suited to the needs of individual trainees that also accelerates research progress. The overall goal of the Advanced Multidisciplinary Training Program for Systems Biology is to accelerate biomedical research through cross- discipline training of pre-doctoral students. The proposed Training Program will involve 33 program faculty members and selected pre-doctoral trainees matriculated into 14 degree-granting Ph.D. programs. Selected faculty members from these Ph.D. programs participate as mentors in this training program based on their diverse research backgrounds of relevance to this training program, and potential or existing collaborative research projects to provide students with interdisciplinary training opportunities. Our objectives are to provide didactic training in interdisciplinary approaches spanning computational to biological disciplines, and create a vibrant training environment for students that is a research community composed of multidisciplinary teams and interdisciplinary scientists working together to understand the mechanisms of human disease. The objectives will be achieved by implementation of a 2-year training plan that incorporates the following features: 1) didactic and experiential training in interdisciplinary research concepts and approaches, 2) a student- centered and flexible curriculum custom tailored to meet the needs of each student via computational and biology elective courses, 3) a research project that will require the student to use interdisciplinary approaches under the mentorship of a multi-disciplinary set of faculty co-mentors, and 4) students engaged in a community that encourages interaction between students and mentors through seminars, data and journal clubs, and an annual retreat. Plans for student and program assessment are designed to tightly track student progress, and allow for continual improvement of the training program.
To develop an understanding about the mechanisms that lead to human disease, researchers must now integrate molecular and biological information that accumulates at a much faster rate than can be deciphered by classic scientific approaches. The goal of the Advanced Multidisciplinary Training Program for Systems Biology is to benefit both research progress and the career development of pre-doctoral students, by teaching them how to work effectively in research teams having complementary expertise, and how to merge the methods and ideas from diverse scientific disciplines to accelerate scientific progress. All supported research projects will be focused on discovering the mechanisms that cause or aggravate human diseases, assuring all projects have relevance to public health.