This application seeks continued support for a long-standing and very successful predoctoral training program in Cellular and Molecular Biology. The proposed program supports 16 students, the same as recommended in the last renewal. The program has been developed and enhanced over 40 years to provide a modern curriculum that educates our trainees broadly and deeply in the rapidly evolving, and central discipline, of cellular and molecular biology. It is unique on campus as the only graduate program focused on this area, and with specially designed courses, including a lab course, covering the fundamentals of the field as well as emphasizing quantitative approaches to the analysis of large datasets. It also includes specially designed 'minicourses' that introduce newly developed technologies and computationally-based approaches to the trainees. The graduate experience is enriched by high level on- campus seminars and symposia, a teaching experience, and additional training in responsible conduct of research and discussion of the broad landscape of career options open to graduates. The Graduate Field of Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell biology, that administers this training grant, includes 58 faculty from 13 undergraduate departments that serve as trainers. Over the last five years, 16 new training faculty have been added, bring greater breadth and depth to the program. Our students now exploit multidisciplinary approaches, from Chemistry, to Physics, Biomedical Engineering, Biochemistry, Genetics, Genomics to Computational Biology. Excellent research facilities, including research cores, are available to trainees, in well-funded laboratories (>$400,000 in annual direct cost/trainer). Student progress is closely monitored by both the thesis committee and the Field as a whole. As a result, graduates in the Trainer labs have been very successful, averaging 3.5 papers per completed Ph.D. degree, with a mean graduation time of under six years. We continue to attract outstanding graduate students (>40% acceptance rate of high quality students in a very competitive environment) and have significantly increased our efforts and success at recruiting minority students. We are constantly asking for feedback from the trainees, and making adjustments to the program based on their suggestions. A large percentage of our graduates go on to postdoctoral studies in highly ranked labs, and several from the last 10 years now hold faculty appointments, while others are excelling, for example, in industry and in the legal profession. Over the next five years, we are planning new 'minicourses', enhancing our efforts to recruit under-represented minorities, enriching the program by carefully selecting new training faculty, and adjusting our curriculum as we constantly strive to enhance the training experience. Only with continued training grant support, will we be able to continue and develop this outstanding program.
The Cornell University Cellular and Molecular Biology Training Program focuses on uncovering the fundamental principles of life, and how defects in these processes cause disease. All diseases, whether genetic, environmental or due to pathogens, are ultimately defects in normal cell function, so the training has broad relevance to human health and disease, especially cancer, diabetes, fertility and metabolic syndromes. Our students and Trainers also study models for regenerative therapies and human development.
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