This application is to renew funding of the University of Oregon's long-standing Molecular Biology & Biophysics graduate training program. Our goal is to train leaders of the next generation of rigorous, innovative, and experimentally-skilled molecular biologists and biophysicists. Our trainees develop the skills to lead research programs of their own, communicate discoveries to other scientists and the lay public, and teach future generations of scientists. Individualized research training within one of many active and diverse laboratories is the core of our program. Trainees may enhance this experience by engaging co-advisors to integrate training from two groups. This training activity is centered in the Institute of Molecular Biology, and also involves additional groups with related scientific interests. Funds are requested for 12 predoctoral positions, within a program that includes 68 graduate students, 42 postdoctoral fellows, and 26 training faculty across three departments. During the past funding cycle, we expanded the number of trainers in the biophysics area (Guenza, Harms, Prell and Ursell), and added four other new faculty covering diverse topics in the program. Each of these new training faculty members collaborates extensively with other members of the training faculty. The laboratories of the training faculty are contiguous and in interconnected buildings, an arrangement that fosters strong interdisciplinary interactions and collaborations among faculty and students. The basic aspect of the training is laboratory research carried out under the direction of a faculty member in the molecular biology and biophysics training program. Through this experience, the trainee becomes skilled at posing questions about fundamental biological processes and designing experiments to answer those questions. The training is augmented by formal courses that cover core molecular biology, biochemistry and biophysics areas, as well computing, statistics, quantitative training and the ethical conduct of research. The very active involvement of the Thesis Advisory Committee (meeting at least once per year) ensures active mentoring and guidance, as well as assessment of trainee individual development plans and progress towards the goals of the plan as trainees progress through the program. We surround the lab and coursework with a wealth of enhancing and broadening experiences. Examples include first-year rotations, teaching, an active thesis advisory committee, journal clubs, annual student research seminars, and interactions with visiting speakers. We provide several newly enhanced career developmental activities to support students interested in non-academic careers with 5-10 visiting speakers per year. Trainees become experienced speakers through regular journal club presentations and by their annual program-wide graduate research seminars beginning in their third year of training. The training facilities include the laboratories of the faculty and extensive services such as the structural biology biophysical facility, the state-of-the-art genomics and imaging facilities, and a large number of other modern shared facilities. Major equipment is shared and housed in common space.

Public Health Relevance

This proposal is to provide support for graduate training leading to the Ph.D. degree in molecular biology and biophysics. Our goal is to produce creative, intellectually critical, and experimentally skilled bioscientists through strong mentoring, structured coursework, and focused research. The training program actively promotes strongly interdisciplinary and collaborative science.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Institutional National Research Service Award (T32)
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NIGMS Initial Review Group (TWD)
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Melillo, Amanda A
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University of Oregon
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United States
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Luan, Qing; Liu, Su-Ling; Helgeson, Luke A et al. (2018) Structure of the nucleation-promoting factor SPIN90 bound to the actin filament nucleator Arp2/3 complex. EMBO J 37:
Duvvuri, Hiranmayi; Wheeler, Lucas C; Harms, Michael J (2018) pytc: Open-Source Python Software for Global Analyses of Isothermal Titration Calorimetry Data. Biochemistry 57:2578-2583
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Wiles, Travis J; Wall, Elena S; Schlomann, Brandon H et al. (2018) Modernized Tools for Streamlined Genetic Manipulation and Comparative Study of Wild and Diverse Proteobacterial Lineages. MBio 9:
Wheeler, Lucas C; Anderson, Jeremy A; Morrison, Anneliese J et al. (2018) Conservation of Specificity in Two Low-Specificity Proteins. Biochemistry 57:684-695
Balzer, Connor J; Wagner, Andrew R; Helgeson, Luke A et al. (2018) Dip1 Co-opts Features of Branching Nucleation to Create Linear Actin Filaments that Activate WASP-Bound Arp2/3 Complex. Curr Biol 28:3886-3891.e4
Fierro Jr, Javier; Haynes, Dylan R; Washbourne, Philip (2018) 4.1Ba is necessary for glutamatergic synapse formation in the sensorimotor circuit of developing zebrafish. PLoS One 13:e0205255
Schlomann, Brandon H (2018) Stationary moments, diffusion limits, and extinction times for logistic growth with random catastrophes. J Theor Biol 454:154-163
Miranda, Rafael G; McDermott, James J; Barkan, Alice (2018) RNA-binding specificity landscapes of designer pentatricopeptide repeat proteins elucidate principles of PPR-RNA interactions. Nucleic Acids Res 46:2613-2623

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