Johns Hopkins University requests continued support for its predoctoral training program in Molecular Biophysics (PMB). Molecular biophysics is the quintessential interdisciplinary field central to progress in modern biomedical research. It demands familiarity with biology, chemistry, physics and increasingly, computer science. PMB is a foundational program providing specialized training in these areas. It offers a supportive and structured environment for students interested in applying and developing their quantitative skills toward an understanding of life processes. PMB is administered jointly by the Biophysics Department (School of Arts & Sciences, Homewood campus) and the Biophysics & Biophysical Chemistry Department (School of Medicine, East Baltimore campus). Eighteen faculty from these two core units are joined by an additional 24 faculty participants distributed in twelve departments and two schools (School of Engineering and School of Public Health). The group of investigators has extensive biophysical expertise and presents research opportunities in experimental and computational fields to all trainees. Specific areas include structural biology, solution biophysics, molecular interactions and supramolecular structures, in vivo biophysics, single-molecule biophysics, theory, computation, networks, biological circuits and systems biology. The program is unique in its well-defined intellectual focus and highly cohesive character. Trainees and faculty form and interactive community engaged in common activities such as dedicated seminar series and annual retreat. All have access to state-of-the-art NMR, X-ray crystallography, mass spectrometry, imaging and solution biophysics facilities. Grant support covers the first two years in training, but the program provides activities and monitors it trainees until degree completion. During the first year, trainees perform three laboratory rotations and take required courses in proteins & nucleic acids, physical chemistry of biomolecules, methods in biophysics, computing, and responsible conduct of research. They begin their thesis work at the end of the second semester in residence. During the second year, they take a required course in mechanistic biochemistry and two electives targeted to the thesis project. Writing and oral communication skills are developed throughout, along with skills essential for joining the workforce in leadership positions. Career development sessions are included in the schedule of program activities. Trainees have the opportunity to participate in the Biophysics Research for Baltimore Teens, designed to increase the diversity of the environment. The program is in its 25th year and supports 16 out of 54 trainees. It continues to evolve with curricular adjustments, changes in the faculty composition, and modernization of research directions and facilities. This ensures that trainees receive outstanding professional preparation in a crucial biomedical field.
The grand challenge in the life sciences during the 21st century will be understanding how all molecules of life interact and act in concert to give rise to the living state, normal and diseased. Molecular biophysics is the interdisciplinary field that addresses these fundamental questions. The Program in Molecular Biophysics trains predoctoral researchers to solve biomedical problems from first principles.
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